Lesley McQueen and Troy Garred with their son Che, 11 months, in the destroyed shed where Troy was isolated from his trapped family.
Lesley McQueen and Troy Garred with their son Che, 11 months, in the destroyed shed where Troy was isolated from his trapped family. Jacklyn Wagner

Mum and baby forced to shelter in bathroom

WITH her 11-month-old son wrapped in her arms and protecting the child with her body, Lesley McQueen ran to the bathroom just as severe winds destroyed the side wall of her house near where baby Che had been playing moments before.

Only minutes earlier, Lesley’s partner, Troy Garred, had decided to put the car in the shed to protect it from what looked like ominous clouds coming rapidly over the horizon.

Within what seemed like seconds, the cloud had burst.

Troy was forced to hide under a desk for protection as the shed’s iron roof was ripped off and sent flying into the afternoon sky as hail the size of 20 cent pieces pelted the ground for about 15 minutes.

“It was terrifying,” Mr Garred said.

“All I could think about was that if the shed was getting hit like this, it would be worse in the house, which would be taking the full force of the storm.”

It was not until the hail had passed that Mr Garred heard his part-ner’s screams for help.

Clambering over a large fallen tree that had been broken in two as if it was a matchstick, he tried the front door but that was blocked.

The back door was also blocked, but with the extra strength that the combination of fear and love can sometimes provide, he managed to pull the door off, allowing his young family to escape and seek refuge with a neighbour.

Ms McQueen said thankfully her other two children had been visiting friends.

“It was just like the tornadoes you see in the movies,” Ms McQueen said.

“And the clouds were this blue colour I have never seen before.”

The only room undamaged was the bathroom.

In the kitchen the sink was thrown to the other side of the room, the fridge lay on its side and the family’s Christmas presents destroyed.

Mr Garred, a plumber, also lost most of his tools.

Yet within all the despair, family and friends arrived yesterday bearing gifts to replace the destroyed Christmas presents.

At the local pub they organised a whip-round as news spread.

And there was room for a bit of gallows humour.

“Che has seen it all now. He was born last year during the floods and now he has seen his first tornado,” said Ms McQueen jokingly.


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