IT TOOK just two minutes for Trevor Hickey's dream home in Stewart Street, Lennox Head, to be completely demolished by the tornado that raged through the village yesterday morning.
He had been standing in the kitchen, looking out the window, when he saw the destructive whirl coming towards him.
“My wife, Elaine, was still asleep in bed at the time,” he said. “I raced into the bedroom, grabbed her out of bed and pulled her down on to the floor.
“I threw a doona on top of her to try and protect her from what was coming.
“She had no idea what was going on. There was just this huge, roaring noise. I can't even explain it.”
The couple then watched helplessly as the full force of tornado hit the building and their home crumbled around them.
Their two-storey house has been extensively damaged, with walls ripped away and most of the roof now missing.
Windows were smashed and, as Mr Hickey surveyed the disaster zone, rain continued to pour through the open roof, drenching the furniture.
Most of their belongings are broken or soaked by the torrential rain.
The wild storm has effectively left the couple homeless, but Mr Hickey admitted they were lucky to be alive and uninjured.
However, he was in shock as he looked around at the pile of rubble which, five years ago, was his brand new home worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“We built it, it was our dream home here in Lennox,” he said. “I just can't believe it.
“I guess I'm in shock. There's glass and rubble all through the house – it's an absolute mess.”
Mr and Mrs Hickey's son, Greg, owns the house next door, but rents it out.
It has also sustained major damage and will probably have to be demolished.
The mother and young child living in the house were taken to Ballina Hospital with minor injuries.
It is believed the mother, who was carrying her baby, fell down the stairs while trying to find somewhere safe to ride out the storm.
Greg Hickey rushed straight home after hearing news of the tornado.
“I live in Lismore, but I came here as soon as I found out about it,” he said.
“I guess all we can do is start the clean up now.”
Mick Furchtman and Simon Tozer, who were working at the Lennox Head Community Centre construction site when the tornado hit, said it had been ‘bloody scary'.
“The whole thing only lasted about five minutes,” Mr Furchtman said.
“But there was so much rubble flying around in the air.”
Local resident Frank Gallet said he was up on the Lennox Point headland and watched in horror as two water spouts approached the village.
“I saw one of them hit the land,” he said. “Then I saw all these sparks and things just being ripped apart and thrown around.
“But it was all over in just a few minutes.”
Another resident said the tornado went ‘straight over the top' of his house.
“It was just so surreal,” he said.