Residents in constant fear
ONE November morning in 2015, a loud bang woke Ulmarra resident Keith Rooke.
"I felt a slight jolt of the house, but had no idea what it was,” he said.
"When I got up, I didn't think much about the noise until I tried to turn things on around the house.”
Nothing worked, so Mr Rooke assumed it was just a power outage.
"I went outside to take a look around and there it was.”
Out the front of his property was a B-double truck that had come to rest diagonally across the Pacific Highway after losing control, rolling and then slamming into a power pole.
Mr Rooke quickly came to a sober realisation. The sound he heard was the flash of 11,000 volts hitting his home while power lines and electrical connections were violently ripped away as the truck collided with the nearby power pole.
Almost every electronic device in Mr Rooke's house had been fried.
He was lucky to be alive.
"My father had always complained to me about getting rid of my old television sets, but funnily enough they were the only things that survived because they were unplugged,” he said.
In the aftermath of that accident, Mr Rooke and his wife had to live in their caravan while their home was re-wired.
After three decades living in Ulmarra, almost nothing fazes Mr Rooke anymore about what happens on the narrow corner of the Pacific Highway near George Street, the site of countless crashes and near-misses.
"At one point I was mowing around the same power pole, I turned around and went down the other end. By the time I turned the lawn mower back around to do the last run, the power lines were hanging down,” Mr Rooke said.
In that single moment, a car had lost control, hit the power pole and came to rest at the bottom of the hollow in front of Mr Rooke's home.
"If I had been mowing there a minute later I would have been killed,” he said.