A MOTHER of three has spoken of her terror as near hurricane force winds ripped part of the roof off her home and smashed the debris down on to her parked car.
Paula Cotter admitted it was "an absolute miracle" that no-one was killed when the roof of her east Cork home gave way under winds gusting at an estimated 140kph.
"If anyone was outside on the street or if anyone was near the car, they would have been killed stone dead," she said.
The roof gave way at 10.30am at the height of Storm Darwin as it tore across Cork and Kerry with winds that came within two knots of being official hurricane force.
Paula, who lives at Bawnog in Midleton, said her daughter heard a loud 'bang' and, as they went to investigate, heard an even louder crash.
"Part of the roof had given way. The wind had ripped off the tiles and masonry and dropped it right down onto my car," she said.
The heavy tiles and masonry partly crushed the car – and smashed the windscreen. Paula looked on in horror at other parts of the roof threatened to give way under the violent gusts.
She immediately contacted Cork Co Council, who own the property, as well as Midleton Fire Brigade and the gardai.
Family friend, Cllr Pat Buckley (Sinn Fein), said he couldn't believe the damage and the sheer power of the wind.
"For a while everyone here thought the storm was so wild and violent that the entire roof would be ripped off," he said.
Paula took shelter inside her house but admitted she didn't know whether she could stay there overnight given the scale of the damage.
"I don't know what to do. My car is destroyed," she said.
Her eldest child, Christopher (17), is starting his Pre-Leaving Cert exams next week.
Her daughter, Lorressa (16), was at home helping her mother on a day off when the accident took place.
Paula's youngest, Adam (13), had gone to school just over an hour beforehand.
Locals said it was a miracle that flying debris didn't cause serious injury or even death.