22nd June  2013

Nicholas Down and his family have just suffered a $40,000 loss, but consider themselves lucky.

2013-06-22 Nicholas-DownThey think they were mere minutes from disaster.

Mr Down, his wife, Jodyann, and sons, Lachlon, 13, and Alexander, 4, had just left their Stokes Valley house on Thursday night when the roof ripped clean off.

His wife had taken the two boys to get takeaways and he was about to join them when it happened. "I heard a huge 'kerchunker' and I watched it go like it was slow motion. It went, like pulling the piece of paper off a tub of margarine."

They bought the house in March, and spent $40,000 on a renovation job which was almost complete.

Now, the roof is wrecked, the carpets and interiors sodden and the family will be stuck living elsewhere for another few months.

The fire service did what they could to salvage what was inside. Fortunately, many of the family's belongings had not yet been moved in."We'd only been living in it for two weeks," he said.

They spent the night with friends who had been putting them up while they renovated. To add insult to injury, theirs was the only damaged house in the street.

But Mr Down is philosophical. "How much worse could it have been? My family's not hurt, nobody was harmed. The poor buggers in the South Island have it worse than us.

"The fire brigade were telling me a couple of families were in bed asleep and the roofs lifted off. That must have been horrifying."

Their roof fell across power lines for a neighbouring house, which was still dark last night.

"We are hoping to start dismantling it [today]. I want to get the power back on for the neighbour."