Safest hiding place was the toilet
HUDDLED in their downstairs bathroom, Jamie Young and his three-year-old son, Huey, were terrified as yesterday's tornado wreaked havoc on their Gibbon Street home.
“It sounded like a bomb going off,” Mr Young said.
“Poor Huey was so scared – he still is, the poor thing.
“We just looked at the window and saw this tornado coming, so we ran downstairs and sheltered in thetoilet.
“I've lived in Lennox Head for 15 years and I've never, ever seen anything like that.
“You could see stuff was being thrown a kilometre into the air.”
Mr Young's house was severely damaged in the storm, with gutters being destroyed and every window smashed.
The strong winds also hurled a wheelie bin into the garage door, causing damage to his car.
Nearby, Leanne Smith had been getting ready for work when the tornado hit.
“I was deciding whether or not I would straighten my hair,” she said.
“I knew the weather was pretty wild, but I had no idea that there was a tornado on its way.
“Then all I could hear was this terrible, terrible noise.
“I ran and hid in the corner of my kitchen.
“The front half of my roof has been completely torn off.
“The garage has been ripped apart, but there's not a single scratch on my car.
“I've lived here in Lennox for 14 years and I've never seen a storm like this.”
Mr Young said many residents were concerned because there had been no warning of the coming storm and its potential to cause so much devastation.
“That's the scary thing,” he said.
“We had no idea that this was coming towards us.
“The clean-up is going to be so huge – it will take a long time for us to sort it all out.”
However, Lennox Head's strong community spirit was already on display just moments after the tornado's fury ended.
Local residents Jodie Rogers, Sage Armstrong and Glen Connor walked up and down the rubble-filled streets offering tea and coffee to emergency service workers and residents who were already hard at work cleaning up.
“I've got gas at my place, so at the moment I'm probably one of the few people in Lennox who can actually boil water for a cuppa,” Ms Rogers said.
“The whole thing has been pretty scary.
“We were curled up in the bathroom – we thought that would be the safest spot in the house.
“I saw it coming and the first thing I thought of was Cyclone Tracy.”
Ms Smith said she was grateful for the support she had already received from her neighbours.
Within a couple of hours of the tornado hitting, she had a team of friends and family members piling up rubble, broken pieces of wood and tree branches.
“I've had lots of offers of places to stay,” she said. “People have been really wonderful.
“I'm just so surprised that this even happened.
“I mean, I didn't want to go to work today, but I would have preferred that than all this destruction.”