WHEN police warned Kiama's Gino Barbisan that they'd lock him up if he tried to enter his severely damaged Minnamurra Street home on Sunday, he nearly took them up on the offer.
"At least I'd have a roof over my head and a hot meal - that's more than I've got now," the 72-year-old said.
"Three-quarters of my roof has gone, the windows and sliding doors are not only shattered, they're all on the ground.
"I don't know what's left inside."
Despite the devastation, the concreter considers himself "lucky" because he was at a party in Wollongong on Saturday night and so wasn't home when the violent storm struck around 3am on Sunday morning.
He got a call from a neighbour soon after and reached the street about 4am, but was not allowed access to his home, or the street, for safety reasons.
"I came back at at 7am [on Sunday] and was allowed to walk up the street to my house. I got a shock when I saw it, but what can you do?" he said.
"I tried to get some stuff out, but the cop kicked me out and told me I'd be put in jail if I went in again.
"So now it's up to the engineers and the insurers to decide; I'll either get money to fix it or I'll have to get a new one.
"At my age you just have to deal with what comes your way."
Minnamurra Street was the worst affected after the extreme weather event tore through the town.
Yesterday the street was cordoned off again, not just for the clean-up of corrugated iron, clumps of insulation, shattered glass and tiles and other wreckage that lay strewn about, but because of the added threat of asbestos.
Asbestos removal crews, dressed in white protective clothing and masks, moved in to monitor the clean-up and ensure no traces of the deadly building material were left exposed.
Residents of the worst-struck streets were issued with notices to vacate in the afternoon due to concerns over asbestos, while nearby residents were advised to keep windows closed and wear masks if they had concerns.
However, it was too little, too late, according to Corey Van Leent, a resident of Colley Drive, another street ravaged by the storm.
"Last night all the volunteers and emergency workers were moved out of our street because of the asbestos scare, and the Hazmat crews came in to clean the road and pathways," he said.
"But the residents were all still here, breathing in the air, as they had been all day and still are. It's a bit of a worry."
Mr Van Leent said his home had not been severely affected, with only a few roof tiles lost, and a couple of windows smashed.
"But we had a massive clean-up just to get the dust from the insulation batts off everything, and move the rubbish that had flown about," he said.
He'd piled his front lawn high with everything from bits of wood to smashed glass to sections of roofing that blew in from another street.
"It must have come from half a kilometre away," he said.
Roslyn Brooks, a resident of Antrim Street, said she was counting her lucky stars after homes either side of hers were severely damaged and hers was left intact.
"It was scary though; we heard this huge noise and the whole place shook and shook and we thought we were taking off," she said.
"We went to find our dog as we thought she would have been blown away, and she was absolutely petrified."
Mrs Brooks said neighbours had come to each other's rescue during the daylight hours, to clear away as much wreckage as they could.
"Everyone pitched in and the police, emergency crews and SES volunteers have been absolutely fabulous."
Meanwhile, Fay Innes of Hothersal Street, slept through the main storm event after taking her hearing aid out.
"I've been here for 65 years and I'd never seen such bad weather - I couldn't take the screaming of the ocean any more so I took my hearing aid out late Saturday night and slept through the storm," she said.