A WOMAN whose home was wrecked by a freak bolt of lightning was not insured, it has emerged.
People across Huddersfield have now been urged to double-check their buildings and contents policies are up to date.
Margaret Cooper's five-bedroomed home on a quiet woodland cul-de-sac in Lepton was badly damaged on Monday afternoon after the lightning set the roof on fire and it then collapsed into the top of the house.
Ms Cooper is now pondering the future after she realised her buildings and contents insurance policies needed renewing, but had not got round to sorting out the paperwork.
The cost of the damage to the stone-built house on Beldon Brook Green has still to be assessed, but will run into tens of thousands of pounds.
Ms Cooper, 54, said: "The insurance is a complete lapse on my part. I just never got round to it. I just don't know what the future holds at the moment."
Fortunately her family is rallying around. She will stay with her sister, Beryl Vale, at her home in Ashton- under-Lyne, near Manchester.
Family members were at the house yesterday, salvaging what they could. The rest is going into storage.
Ms Cooper said: "It is not safe to go upstairs and everything there has been lost. Workmen will be coming to make the roof secure and then I'll have to just take one day at a time."
Ms Cooper is the bureau manager at Holmfirth-based accountants Bell Brown and Co. A neighbour went to the office to collect her and take her home after the house was struck by the lightning bolt shortly before 4pm on Monday.
Ms Cooper was badly shocked by the devastation. She said: "When I got home I just couldn't believe what I was seeing. It's just something you could never contemplate.
"I had to stay the night in a hotel, but couldn't get any sleep."
The lounge ceiling collapsed on Monday evening, caused by water seeping through from above.
The only two rooms not to be devastated were the kitchen and utility rooms.
Ms Cooper's sister, Beryl, said: "It's just so freakish. The house has no aerials on the roof and the amount of damage caused is unbelievable.
"Everything is wet through, dirty, smelly or destroyed. There will be no problem about Margaret staying with me."
A structural engineer from Kirklees Council has assessed the damage and said the house does not need to be demolished.
Beryl said there is a builder in the family who has looked at the house and said the joists between the ground floor and first floor seem OK.
"The building is solid enough," she added. "The roof has gone and the water damage has brought all the ceilings down.
"We are busy salvaging what we can and the family are rallying around."
Met Office spokesman Barry Gromett said lightning hits the ground somewhere in the world 100 times every second.
He added: "People have a one in 3m chance of being struck by lightning. The kind of damage that happened in Huddersfield is exceptionally rare."
The Association of British Insurers has no figures for the number of buildings damaged by lightning each year.
But spokesman Jon French urged people to learn from the Lepton lightning strike and check that their policies were up to date.
He said: "Insurance companies do pay out for damage caused by lightning. The cost of repairing the house in Huddersfield would have been covered."