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WA family with sick daughter left devastated after home destroyed by tornado, raided by looters

Lee-Anne Petchell
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Alan and Tia Bondarczuk’s home in Withers was destroyed when the tornado ripped through the Bunbury suburb on Friday afternoon. PICTURED: Gracie Bondarczuk in hospital.
Alan and Tia Bondarczuk’s home in Withers was destroyed when the tornado ripped through the Bunbury suburb on Friday afternoon. PICTURED: Gracie Bondarczuk in hospital. Credit: Unknown/Supplied

A family whose four-year-old daughter is dealing with debilitating seizures and memory loss have been dealt another massive blow after Friday’s tornado destroyed their home which was then raided by looters.

Alan and Tia Bondarczuk’s home in Withers, in Bunbury Western Australia, was destroyed but the family was fortunate to have survived the storm unscathed.

“Three minutes before the tornado hit, we were in the carpark, we got in our cars parked right under where a massive tree fell,” Ms Bondarczuk said.

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“When we got back everyone was panicking because they saw us get into the cars, they thought we were trapped under the tree and they didn’t know what they would find.”

Alan and Tia Bondarczuk’s home in Withers was destroyed when the tornado ripped through the Bunbury suburb on Friday afternoon.
Alan and Tia Bondarczuk’s home in Withers was destroyed when the tornado ripped through the Bunbury suburb on Friday afternoon. Credit: Unknown/Supplied

Mr Bondarczuk and his youngest daughter Gracie had just left home when they saw the tornado hit the PCYC.

“We were looking at the PCYC when it got torn to shreds, it just folded like a piece of fabric,” he said.

Ms Bondarczuk had just arrived at work when she got the call and headed home to get Gracie. Mr Bondarczuk, a former fire and rescue volunteer, had been called back into service to deal with the aftermath.

The family of five’s second-storey unit had the roof torn off and the ceiling caved in and the building has been badly damaged. The family have not been allowed back into their home.

Adding to their distress, looters struck on Friday and Saturday nights, taking the rest of their household items that weren’t already damaged by the storm.

The family was fortunate to have survived the storm unscathed.
The family was fortunate to have survived the storm unscathed. Credit: Unknown/Supplied

“What little was left has now been stolen — it’s disgusting,” Mr Bondarczuk said.

Despite now being homeless, the couple are most worried about Gracie. Since collapsing in February she has been having grand mal seizures which are causing memory loss and confusion — she is unable to recognise her parents and has forgotten how to walk or feed herself.

“That’s the hardest part as a mum, feeling like you’re losing your daughter every day,” Ms Bondarczuk, a former ambulance volunteer, said.

“I have to go in and introduce myself to her every morning.”

Despite being on a priority waitlist for specialist medical help at Perth Children’s Hospital, they have been told it will be months before Gracie is likely to be seen.
Despite being on a priority waitlist for specialist medical help at Perth Children’s Hospital, they have been told it will be months before Gracie is likely to be seen. Credit: Unknown/Supplied

She said despite being on a priority waitlist for specialist medical help at Perth Children’s Hospital, they have been told it will be months before Gracie is likely to be seen.

In the meantime, the family is paying for private medical assessments and scans that cost as much as $1100 for one test.

“I just want to get her help, but it feels like no one is listening and everything just costs so much,” Ms Bondarczuk said.

“I’ve just had enough of not being able to choose my daughter over paying rent and rego for my car so that we have somewhere to live and a car to get to medical appointments.”

The family has started a GoFundMe campaign to help with Gracie’s medical costs.

“This is something we have kept to ourselves. We have been trying to work through it as a family, but due to the circumstances, it has become extremely overwhelming and difficult,” Ms Bondarczuk said.

To contribute to the family’s fundraiser, visit the site via this GoFundMe link.

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