Howling winds caused havoc for unsuspecting residents in the Illawarra early on Saturday morning, with reports of fallen trees, flying trampolines – and bundles of missing washing.
But the most ‘’significant incident’’ occurred a little before 8am when strong winds blew off part of the roof of a house in Artis Street, Bulli.
The residents inside were uninjured but there were concerns for their safety as the damaged roof also brought down nearby power lines.
Wollongong SES, Fire and Rescue NSW crews and 25 firefighters attended the scene.
‘’We called for some additional urban search and rescue equipment to shore up the roof and make it safer,’’ Fire and Rescue NSW media officer Superintendent Andrew Ticehurst said.
‘’The energy company also arrived at the scene and isolated the power.’’
He added the house was being renovated and the eaves had been removed from the home.
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‘’This probably allowed the wind to get in under the roof and lift up three-quarters of the roof.’’
With no severe weather warning issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, residents across the region were caught by surprise as wild winds lashed the coastline about 2am.
Peak wind gusts of 82km/h were recorded at Bellambi at 6.09am.
From 4.30am, Wollongong and Coniston SES units had received 35 calls for assistance, mostly relating to trees or branches down from Wollongong to Colecliff.
“Our specialist chainsaw operators had their work cut out for them, with large trees blocking access or causing damage needing to be remove at many jobs,” SES media officer Menno Schaaf said.
Mr Schaaf reminded residents that windstorms could strike at any time, so trampolines needed to be secured to the ground at all times.
“We received one request for assistance for a trampoline caught in powerlines - a highly hazardous situation,” he said.
“It's best to leave your property in a state of readiness, especially this time of year when the Wollongong area is more prone to these events.”
A Woonona dad said his kids’ trampoline had landed 40 metres away on a neighbour’s shed, while other residents in the same suburb were left without power.
Many across the region were too afraid to look at what had become of the washing they had left on the clothesline overnight.
“Im just about to peek out the window to see if they are still on the line!” one resident wrote on the Mercury’s Facebook page.
“Collected some of mine down the road,” another chimed in.
“I lost 2 sheets and a pair of jeans overnight,” wrote another reader.
Meantime, a hazard reduction burn planned for Saturday opposite Binners at the roundabout in Helensburgh had to be postponed due to the strong winds.
Helensburgh Rural Fire Brigade said crews would assess the conditions Sunday morning.