Owner left dangling in storm
JULIE RUGGERI is lucky to be alive after trees crashed through her home during a storm on Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s just surreal, I couldn’t believe I was alive,” she said.
Ms Ruggeri, of the Blue Springs Community near Nimbin, was cleaning out gutters before the storm arrived.
After about 15 minutes on the roof she saw three eucalyptus trees, one estimated to be 45 to 50 metres tall, falling towards her.
“I just had nowhere to go,” she said.
“The greenery was going to get me if I ran.”
Ms Ruggeri was left dangling by the cord of her electric leaf-blower.
“A tree jammed the power lead on the back wall, and I was swinging on the end of it,” she said.
Ms Ruggeri was unable to call for help with her phone lost amongst the debris.
Tree branches speared the mattress she had been laying on earlier and crashed through her living room, potentially killing her two sons had they been at home.
“It was fortunate they weren’t here and were staying with their father, because they would have been just there,” Ms Ruggeri said, pointing to a crushed corner in front of the TV.
“It was so hot I had been lying on a mattress in my singlet and undies before I got up on the roof, and the SES said if I’d stayed where I was I wouldn’t be here.
“We joke about it, that of all the places to be, up on that roof was the safest.”
Still in her singlet and undies, a neighbour and the SES rescued her after the storm hit at 4.15pm.
“I was in all my glory when the SES came to rescue me,” she said.
Despite the SES helping Ms Ruggeri with her demolished house, she was unable to get a Centrelink crisis payment until late yesterday.
“I stayed at my neighbour’s the first night and in my car last night,” she said.
Ms Ruggeri is on a disability pension and said the $309 crisis payment would help her ‘even just to get a few bits and pieces’ and stay at a caravan park.
“I’ve just had my first proper meal in two days,” she said.
Centrelink Lismore manager Kathy Gray said the department contacted Ms Ruggeri in this case to make sure she was getting all possible assistance.
“With respect to the recent storms near Lismore, the Australian Government did not activate an Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment,” she said.
“As crisis payment is a one-off emergency payment equivalent to one week’s worth of your normal Centrelink payment. For more information, customers should phone their regular Centrelink payment number or visit their nearest Centrelink office.”