The Hobbs family of Alyson, Amiee, 13, Sofie, 10, and Jules watching a crane lift a fallen tree from their bedrooms. Photo: Andrew Board.

Wind leaves family home in ruins


The Hobbs family weren’t home when a massive heritage tree crashed through their home on Thursday, so didn’t see its incredible fall, but thanks to the video-skills of Derek Sivers, hundreds of thousands around the world did.

The massive tree was one of hundreds that were ripped out of the ground during high winds last Thursday and Friday. The tree falling was captured by Derek and has become a Youtube sensation, but for the Hobbs family and two of their neighbours, the tree represents a destroyed home.

Jules Hobbs says he was at work at the Nelson City Council when he got the call about the tree from one of his neighbours. He rushed home to find it had fallen on top of his bedroom and that of his teenage daughter, destroying clothes, furniture and everything else in the rooms. But he says the fact his family wasn’t home and that their two cats and four chickens survived is the main reason to smile.

“If it had happened an hour earlier my eldest daughter would have most likely been in her room and if it happened at night three of us would have been killed and my youngest daughter would be alone.”

The incident was one of hundreds facing Nelsonians on Thursday and Friday with trees down all over the city. The Brook, Victory, Stoke and Tahunanui areas were all hit hard and the sound of chainsaws echoed through the city on Friday morning.

It wasn’t just trees hit either. On Friday morning hospital staff realised a copper section of roof had blown off in the middle of the night and was dangling over the edge. Patients in ICU – which was directly under the section of roof – were moved as the Fire Service and Police waited for a strong gust to blow it off.

Fortunately it held long enough for a crane to be brought in and slowly bring it down. Station officer Craig Davies says the main concern was for the patients in the hospital and what would happen if it did blow down. The region also received over 600mm of rain in just a few days at the end of last week.