WAYNE Eve can't think too much about the what-ifs.
Six months ago a tornado tore his brick Axe Creek home apart. He survived.
If he'd been inside the house, if he hadn't been videoing the storm, if his wife and son had been home, he thinks it would have been something awful.
Mr Eve believes being at the front door when the tornado hit saved his life.
"Being a freak thing, I think I was very, very, very lucky: that I didn't walk inside, that I wasn't in a different spot at the time, that I was at the front door," Mr Eve said.
"Being at the front door saved me, because it all blew backwards."
Mr Eve, wife Rachel and son William are still rebuilding their lives six months on.
Plans for a new home on the same site are nearly finished, while the family lives in a nearby rental. They're just waiting on permits to start building.
The dream is to be in by early September.
Mr and Mrs Eve did think about moving somewhere else, but they couldn't leave the community that stood by them. And they miss the quiet of Patons Road.
"Our street, our neighbours [were] absolutely amazing, could not have helped any more, just a fantastic street as well as community. The CFA were fantastic," Mr Eve said.
"People who were living eight or 10 kilometres on Patons Road, were randomly dropping gifts us for us."
Mr and Mrs Eve are still getting messages from people checking in on them - particularly on windy days - six months on.
Their new home will be very like the brick home which was destroyed.
In fact, they realised it was almost the same as their old house looking at the layout one day.
"We actually decided to flip it to the opposite, because we don't want to replace our home as such, because we can't replace what we had," Mrs Eve said.
But sometimes they forget the tornado even happened.
Mrs Eve doesn't think about it very often. Then she'll be looking for something - a nice dress, her paddleboard - and realise it was lost to the rubble.
Mr Eve said it still felt weird to not be living at their place.
"It still is a little bit surreal every time we go back home to see. The devastation still in the bush is still a telltale sign that something pretty nasty went through," he said.
"It's just a reminder every time we go back home. It's getting better and better, the forest is regrowing out there."
Our street, our neighbours absolutely amazing, could not have helped any more, just a fantastic street as well as community. The CFA were fantastic.Wayne Eve
The clean up on site has been massive. Sorting the debris was confronting: seeing nice things crushed by bricks, Mr Eve said.
But Mr and Mrs Eve let others help with much of the salvaging work: it was too difficult for them.
The Huntly Football Netball Club was a huge help, Mrs Eve said.
When the family was faced with an overwhelming line up of bin bags, full of wet muddy items pulled from cupboards, the club stepped up.
Members took home a garbage bag, sorted through it, and either binned or cleaned the items.
It was "absolutely fantastic", Mr Eve said.
But there's still work to be done, still rubbish scattered around the site.
Mr Eve thinks they'll be finding valuables in the surrounding bush for the next 10 year. When he walks through the area, he's still picking things up.
Six months on, the fact that their family became "those people" stands out to Mr Eve.
"Everyone says, 'It'll never happen to you'," he said.
"That's one thing that resonates to me: it can happen to you."
His advice: make sure your insurance is in order, and family is the most important thing.
Mrs Eve remembers the morning she left her house for the last time.
Getting ready for netball, her son was in the lounge room wanting her to play. One of the last things she did was to wash the frypan and put it in the drying rack.
The frying pan survived, funnily enough, sitting a bit askew on the same dishrack that evening.
But now Mrs Eve wishes she'd spent the time playing with her son.
"We just had a really great Christmas," Mrs Eve said.
"I thought on more than one occasion our Christmas could have been very different.
"We lost stuff, we lost our house, but it's a very real possibility that if Wayne had been in a different spot in the house, he could have not been with us."
Mr Eve's view is similar:
"We really couldn't be closer as a family, it's just made you realise how lucky we are to have each other."
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.