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Council says $50K damage to family's house an ‘act of God’

STORM DAMAGE: Eli Waters resident Troy Mitchell with the branch that speared through his patio sliding door from a gum tree in the park behind his house.
STORM DAMAGE: Eli Waters resident Troy Mitchell with the branch that speared through his patio sliding door from a gum tree in the park behind his house. Alistair Brightman

AN Eli Waters couple says the Fraser Coast Regional Council is responsible for $50,000 worth of damage to their house after a tree branch crushed their roof during the deadly storm on January 29.

But the council has refused to pay, saying it was an "act of God".

Troy and Anona Mitchell will need a section of their roof repaired; a new fence and pool gate, electrical repairs and kitchen cupboards after large branches flew from trees growing on council-managed land through their back windows and doors.

Anona was on the phone to her son when the storm hit.

"I was telling my son it was starting to hit and he should get off the road because he was driving, and that's when I saw something fly right at me," she said

Anona was able to jump out of the way just before the branch hit.

"It almost killed her, it just missed her," Troy said.

On the same weekend as the storm, a council worker was sent out to the property to inspect the trees.

On Sunday, January 31, all seven trees from behind the Mitchell's property were removed.

"If they were safe, why did they need to be cut down?" Troy said.

The council said it was not responsible for the damage because the trees were considered healthy and strong when they were inspected in July last year.

Fraser Coast council CEO Lisa Desmond said the storm was an "act of God for which the council cannot be held liable".

"There were no issues identified at the time that required works to be undertaken," Ms Desmond said.

"Removal of trees after the storm was as a result of damage sustained to them during the storm event."

Topics:  damage editors picks eli waters fraser coast council storm



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