Lennox rebounds: Dodie Bischoff watches as her husband Tony (right) and long-time Lennox Head resident and neighbour John Stewart collect debris from their tornado-ravaged home in Pacific Parade on Saturday.
Lennox rebounds: Dodie Bischoff watches as her husband Tony (right) and long-time Lennox Head resident and neighbour John Stewart collect debris from their tornado-ravaged home in Pacific Parade on Saturday. Marc Stapelberg

Twister shock still sinking in

WHEN last Thursday’s freak tornado exploded across Pacific Parade in Lennox Head, the first house in its path was number 23.

The furious twister tore the roof and second storey right off the beachfront home, seriously damaging the rest of the building.

“We were sort of prepared for it, having seen all the footage, but to arrive yesterday and see our personal stuff all over the yard was heartbreaking,” Dodie Bischoff said on Saturday morning.

“I’ve just found my graduation photo smashed in the neighbour’s backyard.”

While order was slowly returning to the battered beachside community yesterday, the extent of the damage to the northern end of town was still no less daunting.

The shock was beginning to sink in for many, but residents were still in good spirits as the last of the national media packed up and the builders began moving in.

Richmond Local Area Command duty officer, Inspector Nicole Bruce, praised the Lennox Head community for their efforts and said the police would continue to assist where needed.

Early reports of looting proved to be false and turned out to be people removing their personal belongings from wrecked caravans.

“The only reported theft in Lennox Head since the tornado was a tripod from a Channel Ten news crew,” she said.

“We put on extra patrols the first night, but the community appears to have it well in hand.”

Mrs Bischoff and her husband, Tony, flew up from Bendigo in Victoria, where they now live, on Friday to survey the damage and begin the painstaking task of salvaging their family’s precious belongings and organising the rebuild.

“Mum usually lives here, but she’s in Europe at the moment,” Mrs Bischoff said.

“I was on my way to work on Thursday when a girlfriend texted me saying a tornado had hit Lennox Head.

“When I got to work the first thing I saw on Google was a picture of our house with no roof. It was unbelievable.

“We had flights booked to return on Monday, but we might stay longer now because there is so much to do.

“We’ve got to pack up all the furniture and get the engineers in to decide whether to demolish or rebuild.

“Our insurance guy told us we were his number one priority at the moment.”

The Bischoffs spent Saturday moving furniture and picking through the rubble and smashed glass with the help of supportive locals.

Long-time Lennox Head resident John Stewart down played his neighbourly efforts, saying he was just ‘doing what needed doing’ and helping out where he could.

“He’s been just amazing,” Mr Bischoff said.

“Stewart Street is named after his family and around here they call him the local sheriff.

“He is always looking out for us and picking up rubbish off the beach.

“If your wheelie bin goes missing he’ll ring you halfway across the country and say ‘someone’s nicked your bin, but I’m on to it’.

“He a smart old bugger, too, just look at his house, not a scratch on it.

“It’s like the brick house from the three little pigs.”



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