A GREAT-GRANDMOTHER is counting the cost after a huge tree came crashing through the roof of her home.
Norma Neil was watching television in the afternoon when she heard an enormous bang.
The 81-year-old, of Silvester Road, Cowplain, said: ‘It was a bit of a traumatic experience, I must say.
‘It was 4.30pm and I was watching TV when all of a sudden there was such a noise. It sounded like a bomb had gone off.
‘I lived through the end of the war so I can remember the explosions.
‘I was so frightened but I opened the kitchen door and there was a huge branch sticking through the ceiling, like a spear.
‘I was shaking like a leaf. I called 999 and they sent the firefighters and the police.
‘A huge firefighter turned up and I said, “someone just hug me please”.’
The firefighters made the house safe, removing branches and trying to cover the hole. And Mrs Neil says she was overwhelmed at how the retained crew from Waterlooville station, and a female police officer, looked after her.
‘I honestly can’t thank them enough,’ she said. ‘They hugged me, held my hand and reassured me.’
Dave Graham is the station manager.
He said: ‘We go out to people when they are at their lowest after disaster has struck.
‘I’ve got to say, Norma was very brave considering what had happened to her. She must have had a fair old fright – there’s no two ways about it.
‘It’s part of our job to reassure people and guide them in the best way we can.’
The damage to the house is expected to run into thousands of pounds because the back part of the roof has large holes in it, and guttering has been ripped off.
Mrs Neil’s family original thought a tornado was to blame but Laura Young, a spokeswoman for the Met Office, explained that was not the case.
She said: ‘On Saturday, we had what is known as a squall line, a very thin band of very intense rain showers.
‘It also included hail, thunder, and lightning, and very strong gusts of wind.
‘It went across the country in less than an hour. We did see gusts of wind up to 60mph and they can quite often be mistaken for tornados.’