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Family home from holiday to find house crushed

Date

John-Paul Moloney, Estelle Griepink

(l-r) Shaelagh, 10, and Bailey Sutherland, 8 and dogs Asher and Monty and father Greg Sutherland with the tree that was pushed over by destructive storms in Holder.

(l-r) Shaelagh, 10, and Bailey Sutherland, 8 and dogs Asher and Monty and father Greg Sutherland with the tree that was pushed over by destructive storms in Holder. Photo: Jay Cronan

A Holder family are counting their blessings that they and their two dogs escaped serious harm during Saturday’s wild storms.

Greg and Melissa Sutherland were camping in Narooma when they received a panicked call from a friend who told them a tree had crashed into their home.

Greg Sutherland inspects the damage to the household bathroom that was caused by a tree, pushed over by destructive storms in Holder.

Greg Sutherland inspects the damage to the household bathroom that was caused by a tree, pushed over by destructive storms in Holder. Photo: Jay Cronan

They arrived home Sunday to find the trunk of a gum tree in the backyard had snapped. The tree crashed down onto the Sutherlands' house causing major damage, including to a bathroom and the bedroom of five-year-old Amelia. It also crushed the dog houses and the swing set belonging to their three kids, Shae, 10,  Bailey, 8, and Amelia.

Luckily, Monty and Asher had sheltered elsewhere during the storm and were not injured.   

‘‘We knew it was big,’’ Mr Sutherland, 29, said of the tree, which neighbours have estimated was at least 30 years old.

Greg Sutherland inspects the damage that was caused by a tree that was pushed over by destructive storms in Holder. Photo: Jay Cronan. Click for more photos

Holder family's home damaged by storm

These photos were sent in by Melissa Sutherland of Holder. Melissa and her family were away for the long weekend and arrived home to find significant storm damage to their house and yard. 

‘‘We’ve been worried about it.’’

The tree’s branches crashed heavily onto the roof, causing substantial damage to the patio, bathroom, laundry and two of the bedrooms.

The light fitting in the laundry was smashed to pieces by the impact of the storm.

Mrs Sutherland said the family was grateful the tree hadn't fallen one metre closer, or it would have destroyed most of the house.

“We're very blessed that we weren't at home. It was just after 6pm that our neighbours were watching the news and couldn't hear it because of the worst of the storm coming through. Looking out the window they noticed our chimney was a bit bent and they could see Black Mountain," Mrs Sutherland said.

Amelia’s bedroom suffered the most damage. Rainwater has dripped through the sunken roof, causing damage to her toys and clothes.

Mrs Sutherland, 30, said the family would stay with her grandparents until the house was safe to enter.

‘‘All the power has been turned off at the mains. We’re discouraging the kids from going inside the house until it’s safe to do so’’, she said.

ACT SES secured the property after the storm by cutting the largest branches from the fallen tree, but there’s still much work to be done.

It’s a mark of how many calls SES has received, that the Sutherlands have been told there are 60 other calls that need to be responded to first.

Despite the storm damage, the family is in good spirits. Mr Sutherland said the hole in the ceiling caused by the damage had endowed the house with a "sky light".

Mrs Sutherland said Amelia was taking the news hardest.

“For Amelia, it's very distressing. Her room is wrecked and all she's got are her beach clothes," she said.

“The other kids have gone 'wow', they think it's great. They're a bit excited because they'll have the best news when they go to school next week."

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