On Friday afternoon, three mini tornadoes swept through Canberra, killing one person and damaging a lot of buildings and trees. One such tree and building combination was my house and the gum tree next to it.
It was about 4:30 or so when the storm struck, during it a very large banging sound was heard coming from the roof of my home, This was very short lived and sounded like very large hail hitting the roof.
Around 6PM the next door neighbours noticed the large gum tree had broken and was leaning on my house. It had hit the building with quite a bit of force, but was rotten in the middle and therefore quite soft, this caused the tree to break up upon impact and cause minimal damage. It did however manage to scatter debris over the roof and front of the house. The tree hit the side of the house, near the back.
At this stage we weren’t actually aware of how the tree was situated, and what damage had been caused, but the job had been logged with the SES. The fire brigade were in the area and turned up within minutes of the job being logged, as nobody knew that the tree was rotten, the area was closed due to the chance of the tree moving in the wind and causing more damage. The tree trunk was only balancing on 1 inch of the stump.
The fire brigade signed over the area to the landlord’s contractor, “spotless services” or something to that effect, who then started coordinating the cleanup. This involved relocating my family and the neighbours for the night whilst Spotless and the tree surgeons decided what to do.
The landlord put up the family at the Olims Hotel , which is just up the road, unfortunately they don’t accept pets, so Nattie stayed with another nearby neighbour for the night, which was very exciting as she got to spend the night with a cat. Nattie had lots of fun chasing the cat around for most of the night, although not in a hunting manner, more of a playful manner. Nattie and the cat apparently had fun.
Not long after my family (including myself) were up at Olims, Loadedog  passed by my place (he has a friend next door) and took some photos of the tree. He somehow made it look like the lights were on at my place in the first photo, and the man on the right of the second photo is Matthew from Spotless.
The thing with a cord hanging out of it is a “Daikin reverse cycle heat pump” and the TV is a budget brand sold at The Good Guys. The TV quite clearly shows the local free to air stations via TransACT.
It was close to midnight when we all sat down for a nice cup of coffee, so I went over to the clock radio/telephone and turned it on, it was unfortunately on one of Canberra’s commercial FM music stations, this situation was soon rectified, with 2CC being found within moments. Stuart Bocking was talking about the storms which had swept through most of New South Wales and the ACT, so I decided to ring him later to tell him about the tree.
When Mum and Dad went to bed I went into the bathroom to do three things, ring Stuart Bocking, clean my teeth and have a shower. I rang 2UE and explained that I didn’t have much mobile phone credit left, and the lady who answered the phone put me in the queue and offered to ring me back when it was nearly my turn on air. I waited for a while for my phone to ring, and then it did, I had a good chat with Stuart Bocking, and then continued with my routine before going to bed.
The next morning at 6:30 everyone was awake and bog ordinary morning television was observed for one reason or another, it was mildly amusing, and close to 7am it was turned off and the radio turned on. After the news we all went and had some breakfast before wandering down to our place where tree removal was well underway. I had to go back to fetch the camera, so my parents went ahead of me. As I got closer I took these photos.
In the last picture, the lady holding Nattie’s lead is the neighbour who looked after her overnight.
Overall we were lucky that this 40 year old tree was rotting, as a solid tree falling the way it did would most probably have caused much more damage, and with the building being built the way it was, probably caused a partial collapse. In the end we got to have a nice mini-holiday and some special excitement for the weekend. In some ways, it could even be described as fun!