Alison Kaihau, of Kyogle, and her 22-month-old son, Tane, with the destroyed caravan that belonged to her parents. Alison is grateful her family was not in Lennox on Thursday.
Alison Kaihau, of Kyogle, and her 22-month-old son, Tane, with the destroyed caravan that belonged to her parents. Alison is grateful her family was not in Lennox on Thursday. Doug Eaton

Family surveys park devastation

ONE Kyogle family is counting its lucky stars after surveying the devastation at Lake Ainsworth Caravan Park yesterday.

“Dad was supposed to be coming down to stay in our van this week but decided not to go because of the weather,” said a relieved daughter, Alison Kaihau.

Ms Kaihau, her 22-month-old son Tane and parents, Greg and Jenny Capps spent yesterday just trying to comprehend the destruction to their family van during Thursday’s tornado that torn the coastal village apart.

“It looks like a bomb’s gone off,” Allison said.

“It was a huge shock. I was devastated when I saw it. I just cried.

“Dad bought it for family holidays about 15 months ago and this is the second time we’ve had to repair it from storms – though I don’t think we’ll be able to repair it this time. The important thing is the damage was material and no one was hurt.

“Our van took out the two behind us. It’s amazing the couple next to us weren’t here. They spend most of their time here and our van landed right on top of theirs.

“My son was a bit confused wandering around finding his toys in the debris.

“We’re still trying to figure if we can afford to replace it as the insurance won’t fully cover it. But we just love holidays here. It’s bliss with the lake and the beach.”

Just a few sites down towards the beach, Cronulla couple Dave and Allana Baigent thought their number was up as Thursday’s tornado bore down on them in their two-man tent at the park.

The couple visit Lennox Head in June every year and had pitched their tent this week in their usual spot, planning to enjoy the usually balmy winter weather when the devastating twister struck.

“At first we couldn’t believe what we were seeing,” Mrs Baigent said.

“We heard the roar and thought what the hell is that?

“So we came out to look and saw the tornado coming over the roof of the house just across the road with everyone’s furniture and building materials swirling around in it.

“We couldn’t believe it. We had no time to do anything so we just held on to the tent and hoped for the best when suddenly it just turned left.”

The trail of destruction tells the rest of the story. Just metres from the Baigent’s camping site, caravans were picked up like toys and smashed into other vans while powerlines were downed and trees were ripped up.

Even Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan was speechless – he took one look at the Baigent’s tent among overturned caravans while touring the site on Thursday and shook his head.

“I should ask them for advice on tying guy ropes,” he said.

“I’ve done a bit of camping in my time but I doubt my tent would’ve faired that well.”

Mrs Baigent said her husband had added extra guy ropes the night before the storm but, having seen the tornado’s fury first-hand, she doubted that is what saved them.

“We were so lucky. Everyone keeps telling us to buy a lottery ticket,” she said.



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