Cyclone Gabrielle: ‘I’m so lucky’: Whangārei woman escapes with minor injuries as tree crushes cabin

Lyric Godsmark’s grandfather surveys the damage to her sleepout at Glenbervie after it was crushed by a falling tree. Photo / Lyric Godsmark

A Whangārei woman is in shock but grateful to have only minor injuries after her sleepout was crushed by a tree brought down by Cyclone Gabrielle.

Lyric Godsmark suffered bruising and a sprained ankle but was saved from more serious injury, or worse, when she ended up in a space between a wall and the roof as the cabin collapsed.

The 24-year-old has lost most of her belongings — it’s too dangerous to go into the wreckage until the cyclone has passed — so this morning she headed to K-Mart to replace some clothing and other essentials.

Her only real concern now is her cat, Baby, which she hopes managed to get out and will eventually return.


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Godsmark, a social services administrator, said she had moved into the self-contained cabin at Glenbervie, outside Whangārei, just two weeks earlier.

At 7pm on Sunday, as Cyclone Gabrielle started pounding Northland, she heard a snapping noise and looked out the window.

“All I could see was a big tree slam into another tree. I thought, ‘that’s coming straight for me’, but before I could even finish thinking about grabbing my cat, the roof and everything came down on top of me. It totally demolished the whole cabin.”

Godsmark said the falling roof slammed her into a wall, creating a pocket that protected her.


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She walked out of the wreckage with bruising on her head where the roof hit her, a bruised arm and shoulder, and a minor ankle sprain.

A fire truck and ambulance couldn’t reach the cabin because of waist-deep floodwater across the drive so firefighters waded across to check her out.

She knew St John was busy with lots of other callouts so she told the medics she was okay, and the firefighters decided nothing could be done about the cabin until the storm died down.

Little remains of Lyric Godsmark’s Glenbervie cabin after it was hit by a falling pine tree. Photo / Lyric Godsmark
Little remains of Lyric Godsmark’s Glenbervie cabin after it was hit by a falling pine tree. Photo / Lyric Godsmark

Godsmark said she’d surprised herself by how well she’s handled the terrifying experience.

“I think I’m really shocked and glad that I’m okay, and everyone else is okay and my family don’t have to worry about me. That’s what keeping me going. I’ve got so much help from Civil Defence, my work, Work and Income, and the community. Everyone’s been so good.”

She was now staying with her grandparents in Whangārei again, where she’d been living until two weeks earlier.

“I’d only just moved out and into my own place. They’re happy I’m back though, as grandparents are.”

Godsmark wasn’t upset about losing her belongings.

“I’m not too worried about materialistic stuff, that can be replaced. It’s mainly my cat really.”

She returned with her grandfather on Monday to look for Baby, a visit that required them to swim across the driveway.


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There was no sign of the much-loved cat — “I’m hoping she just ran off” — but otherwise she was just relieved and glad to be okay.

“I really got out of it. I’m so lucky. I saw it coming and had that feeling of, ‘wow, this is going to be really bad’.”

The main house, where her landlord’s son and partner live about 20m from the cabin, was unscathed.

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