Belfast Telegraph

Ophelia: Tommy's lucky escape as tree crashed through roof of home

By Claire McNeilly

A man has said he is lucky to be alive after an 80ft beech tree crashed through a roof and into the sunroom where he was sitting during Storm Ophelia on Monday.

Tommy Dowds (57) told how he was having a cup of coffee and listening to the radio in his Broughshane home just after 12.30pm when, without warning, he found himself "covered in tiles, plaster and tree branches".

He also revealed that prior to the frightening experience, which left him "shocked and shaken", he'd thought "the fuss about the storm was nothing more than a storm in a teacup".

The Co Antrim civil servant, who was alone at the time of the incident, said he was very fortunate to have escaped unscathed - although the same couldn't be said for his house.

"I don't want to be dramatic but if I'd been sitting two or three feet to my left-hand side that tree could have killed or seriously injured me," he said.

"Shortly before it happened I'd been in the garden but I came in and made a coffee and, just a couple of minutes later, the tree came through the tiled roof.

"There was no pre-warning, no cracking or creaking or crunching, no big gusts of wind - there was nothing to indicate that it was going to come down, but suddenly I found myself sitting among plaster board, roof tiles, roof timber and branches from the tree.

"It scared the life out of me. It would have been a different story if I had been sitting elsewhere."

Although Mr Dowds said he could only hazard a guess as to the cost of repairs - which would probably run into the tens of thousands of pounds as the sunroom would have to be replaced - he felt "very fortunate" that he had been spared injury.

"There could also be structural damage to the main part of the house but my insurance is watertight, so we'll see what happens," he added.

"Hopefully I'll have a new sunroom by this time next year."

Mr Dowds added: "I stopped thinking the weather warnings were a storm in a teacup after what happened to me."

Belfast Telegraph

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