MICK Shirlaw has no doubt he was in the eye of one of the tornadoes which tore through the area as he and three young women sat in his cab on Pacific Street just after 3am on Sunday, February 24.
There is also no doubt that Mr Shirlaw's actions in the few minutes it took for the wind to wreak havoc, saved his own life and those of the women he was trying to get home.
About 3.15am Mr Shirlaw had stopped to look for the house number of the home of one of the passengers when all hell broke loose.
"I heard a hell of a noise. I worked on trains for 17 years and it sounded just like a train coming," he said.
The cab was then lifted 45 degrees off the ground sidewards with the driver's side in the air before it abruptly dropped back down.
With powerlines clipping the back of the taxi and swinging wildly to the ground about five metres in front of the car, Mr Shirlaw, a one-time electrician, said his greatest fear at that point was that the car would flip, leaving it unearthed and the passengers at risk of electrocution.
"That was not fun, it really was not fun," Mr Shirlaw said.
Mr Shirlaw said by this time he and the passengers were cowering on the floor of the cab.
"Then it went quiet for five seconds, you could have heard a pin drop and I thought 'this is not good'," he said.
As the eye of the tornado passed over the car, the vehicle was then hit from the other side.
With power now out, Mr Shirlaw wove the car through the debris which now littered the street.
"There was debris flying about, a bit of roofing hit the ground five metres behind the cab."
Seeing the extent of the damage and not knowing what the passenger who lived in Pacific Street would find at home, Mr Shirlaw and the women decided to go back through the CBD instead to another woman's home on the other side of town.
"That's when I realised how lucky we'd been," Mr Shirlaw said.
"One of the girls said 'we just nearly died Mick', I said 'yep'. I'll definitely be buying a lottery ticket."
Fellow cab driver Mick O'Leary was one step behind Mr Shirlaw. He said he stopped on the highway at Bombo in a maxi taxi as the wind passed over.
"Because the van's hollow, it's bigger and it's worse [than being in a car]. It was pushing me sideways," he said.
"I am pretty sure I was the first person into Gipps [Street] afterwards. There was just stuff everywhere, chairs and tables and debris. I rang Gavin [Kiama Cabs' Gavin McClure] and said 'it's like a bomb has gone off'."
From their Kiama Downs cab company base, Mr McClure and his wife Kay McNiven had been watching the Bureau of Meteorology radar.
"When the wind started I looked at the radar and said to Kay 'we are going to get hit with this very, very soon', so I started to call the drivers to say 'we're close to knock off time', that they should call it a night."