Waterside woman Emer Fraser had a lucky escape on Thursday morning when she came within minutes of being struck by a falling storm-damaged tree at her Altnagelvin home.
The Ivy Mead Mews resident told the Sentinel how she had just finished checking the oil level in her back garden when a tree, along with a large volume of attached vegetation, which had presumably been destabilised by the effects of the recent cyclone, came crashing down on top of her oil tank.
She told the paper: “I just went out to see the oil number...and I was literally left there a couple of seconds when this came down.”
Mrs Fraser said she was lucky not to have been killed.
“If it had been a minute earlier when I was under it I’d be dead,” she said. “It’s funny, my friend there, said this summer, when we were sitting out: ‘Who’s responsible for those trees? That’s dangerous.’ I said: ‘Don’t be daft, of course, they won’t.’”
But on Thursday morning the extremely fortunate Altnagelvin resident realised how wrong she was.
“And I just couldn’t believe it. But the fright I got, I heard this unmerciful bang.
“I don’t know if the oil tank is ruined now and the fence under it,” she explained.
Mrs Fraser said the tree crashed through her back fence from a hedgerow, which forms part of a dividing boundary running behind the gardens of homes in that particular part of the estate.
She said it’s now a matter of figuring out who’s responsible for the land in question.
The close shave occurred after high winds, wintry showers and storm waves had battered the coasts of Donegal, Londonderry, Antrim and Western Scotland for well over 24 hours.
The stormy conditions were wrought by the so-called weather-bomb roaring in from across the North Atlantic.
Such stormy conditions tend to have an extremely damaging effect on the weak, unstable and rotting vegetation that can be found right across the city.
Nearly, three years ago, after similar inclement conditions, the Sentinel reported how it had been extremely fortunate no-one had been killed when a huge tree crashed across Broomhill Avenue halting just inches from an elderly couple’s front living room and blocking one of the main entrances to Caw/Nelson Drive.
The catastrophe - brought about by 90 miles per hour winds that battered Londonderry and closed numerous roads including the Trench Road - followed a similar incident in May 2012 when an adjacent tree was felled, also causing damage to the couple’s property.
Once again, the weather has played havoc, and Mrs Fraser is urging people to be extra cautious if they have any concerns about the stability of trees near housing, roads and footpaths.
She told the paper she was fortunate to have cheated death.
“I was literally by this door here when bang. I looked around, I jumped. I couldn’t believe it. I escaped it by minutes really. I just thought I could’ve been under there, dead, and no-one would hear me,” she said.