Kiama storm couple still homeless a year on

• Fierce Kiama tornado left trail of destruction

It is a year to the day since a tornado ripped through the Jamberoo property of Brian and Kay Robinson.

The tornado was one of four to hit the southern Illawarra in the early hours of February 24, 2013.

The Robinsons' Minnamurra Lane property bore the brunt of the Jamberoo tornado, which also wreaked havoc on the neighbouring Jamberoo Golf Course.

They spent the weeks after the tornado coming to terms with the damage to their 150-year-old homestead and trying to figure out where to start the clean-up of the park-like gardens they had developed over the previous three decades.

An estimated 80 large trees were uprooted in their two-hectare garden, with large limbs also creating massive holes as they were thrown into the ground.

Twelve months later the Robinsons are still in rented accommodation in Jamberoo. They continue to make the trip to their property twice a day to continue the clean-up and tend to their animals.

Brian and Kay Robinson pictured immediately after the storm.

However, they do so with smiles on their faces after receiving a phone call on December 24.

"At 12.30pm on Christmas Eve, Renee from GIO rang and said 'We have good news - we are going to rebuild the home the way you want it'," Mr Robinson said.

The phone call ended 10 months of uncertainty.

"It was tough going. We didn't know where [the insurance company] were going, if they were going to rebuild the home, pull it down and build a new home, or pay us out - we wanted our old building back."

They hope to be back in their home this coming September.

"I'm feeling great," Mr Robinson said. "There are a few off days when you realise what you have lost and feel you will never get the work done.

"But you think you have problems until you hear other people's stories ... you see the damage done to other people who were not insured or have companies that don't want to help, so in a way we have been very fortunate."

Mr Robinson said the greatest thing to have come out of the disaster was it brought his family a lot closer.

"We were always close but family has made a real big difference," he said.

"The neighbours and friends have been great, so many people helped us and are still offering to help and we are very grateful."

Kiama Municipal Council estimates the tornadoes cost the community more than $2.65 million.

In the weeks after they hit, the council appointed Michael Innes as a disaster recovery information officer to help liaise between the victims, council and agencies.

Brian and Kay Robinson hope to be back in their Jamberoo home by September. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Brian and Kay Robinson hope to be back in their Jamberoo home by September. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

"From the moment the family of tornadoes struck our municipality there were many people in the community seeking assistance," Mr Innes said. "A lot of people were emotional and in a state of shock after the tornado event, and it was a very stressful time in the months that followed."


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