CHEATING death, avoiding windblown roofs and neighbours who helped mop up were just some of the stories told at a special event on Wednesday, October 18, marking two years since a tornado hit Armidale.
More than 100 people attended the free breakfast in Armidale Town Hall.
Organised by Armidale Regional Council, Celebrating our Resilience was a "thank you" to those involved in the clean-up and recovery operations in the aftermath of the tornado, that struck on October 14, 2021.
Members of the SES, NSW Police, Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue, BackTrack and Country Energy were among those invited to the breakfast.
Choirs from Ben Venue Public School and PLC Armidale gave special performances, with songs aimed at celebrating the community's resilience following the tornado.
UNE Vice-Chancellor Chris Moran spoke of the destruction left by the tornado on campus.
About a third of the campus was damaged when the tornado struck, ripping apart the northern section of the campus and felling 300 trees in its wake.
In the city, the tornado cut a 40-kilometre path and a four-kilometre-wide swathe through rural, residential and educational domains in Armidale, knocking down power lines and leaving thousands of homes without power.
Armidale Mayor Sam Coupland told of the terrifying moments when the tornado struck his home, west of Armidale, pulling down powerlines and ripping apart structures on his property.
"The next day, word got out on social media that we needed help and our friends and community rallied," he told the audience.
"We were just so grateful to the community, that pulled together to help those impacted to get back on their feet."
Another victim, Justin Hu, told how the roof of his home was torn off by the tornado.
The next morning he was visited by a neighbour, Helen Webb, who cycled around the vicinity, checking on neighbours and offering support.
The breakfast allowed Mr Hu to personally thank Ms Webb, who was also presented with an hydrangea plant.
Armidale mother and host of the international podcast Challenges that Change Us, Ali Flynn, shared her story of suffering a stroke, aged just 32.
She compared the compassion and help offered to her family in her months-long recovery to that given by the community to victims of the tornado.
"Armidale is a remarkable community that showed its resilience and courage in the days and months after the tornado," Ms Flynn said.
The free breakfast at the event was cooked by the Rapid Relief team, who also provided over 1600 meals during the clean-up.
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