Hunter residents battened down the hatches last night as a wild storm bringing strong winds, hail and heavy rain hit the region.
Lucas King was watching the storm approach with his wife, when a huge gust of wind suddenly ripped the roof from their house.
“Everything happened really quickly and on the second gust we heard an incredible cracking noise in the ceiling,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.
“It was so loud, the gust had stripped one half of our roof off and sent it about 40 metres into the neighbours’ backyard, smashing their garden shed and clothesline.
“There were also posts from the ceiling speared into the ground like javelin, and water started to pour through the light fixtures and fans.
“We had to wait for the storm to calm down before we could look at it properly.
“We called the SES but are still waiting for them to arrive, there was a lot of damage to the ceilings in one half of the house, but everyone, including the dogs are safe.”
Residents of a nursing home in Stockton received a similar fright, when a large section of the home’s roof blew off. Thankfully, no one was injured.
While a retirement village at Fern Bay was also damaged, when a bus shelter blew through the front window.
Newcastle SES crews received 288 calls for help, which started pouring in as early as 6.30pm.
The areas worst hit were Newcastle, with 189 calls for help, followed by Lake Macquarie which recorded 21, and 16 calls were answered in Maitland.
Most callers needed help to repair damaged roofs following gusty winds and fallen trees.
Kate Mahony was at home in Shortland when a tree fell across her driveway and shed.
“My partner and I were inside when we heard a loud bang,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.
“He checked outside and noticed the tree from next door had fallen across our entryway, driveway and shed.
“Thankfully my partner hadn’t parked his car where the tree fell so we had access to a car to leave and spend the night elsewhere.
“We attempted to contact the SES, but were unable to get through due to the extensive damage in local surrounding areas.”
The roads were a nightmare along the Newcastle Inner City Bypass at Shortland and on the Pacific Highway at Sandgate, with blacked out traffic lights, while trees and powerlines caused traffic issues in Shortland, Maryland, Hexham, Wallsend, Fletcher, Jesmond, Black Hill, Shortland, Wickham and New Lambton.
With powerlines down, thousands of homes across the Port Stephens, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle area were plunged into darkness.
Stockton and Fern Bay were worst hit, with over 3000 homes without power.
Ausgrid crews have been working through the night, with power now restored to parts of Maryland.
More photos of the damage across the Hunter can be seen below.