'All we could do was hug each other'
ROADS and Maritime Services workers wander up and down the Pacific Highway pouring sawdust onto patches of diesel-stained road, occasionally grabbing a stray plastic bag that has broken free from the 2m-high rubbish pile strewn across the front lawn.
One crew member watching the southbound traffic starts to wave his hand at motorists to remind them to slow down.
Few acknowledge him.
"You'd think the crash site would be hint enough to slow down," he mumbles.
One northbound motorist finally realises the destruction ahead and slows down, causing a fuel tanker driver behind them to sound the horn in frustration.
Resident Ryan Brown stands quietly among the clean-up crew as they work around him.
"They've been here all night; they haven't had a break yet," he says.
At about 9.30pm Monday a B-double truck heading north had just passed through the notorious Ulmarra southern bend, left the road, hit the embankment and come to rest metres from the Brown family home.
Nearby residents reported hearing an explosion before their power was cut. They later discovered it was from the truck hitting two power poles, leaving Ulmarra in darkness for most of the night.
Building material was thrown from the the truck's back trailer as it rolled and diesel fuel spread across more than 15 metres.
"They had a hazmat crew go over the rubbish and luckily there's no asbestos, but they've still got a massive job of cleaning up," Mr Brown said.
"They're going to come back through and scrape the soil, replace the fence. Roads and Maritime Services have offered us a lot of help, and offered to get us a generator until our power comes back on."
Mr Brown is exhausted.
Exhausted by the long night spent watching another truck hauled from his front yard.
Exhausted from the negative comments received by passing truck drivers while rescuing one of their own from the wreckage.
Exhausted from the decades-long battle to have a safe place for his children to grow up. Exhausted by a lingering thought that he could have just lost his family.
"Everything was going good up until now," he said.
"The signs were working well ... it's just a shame."
Less than a month ago, Ulmarra residents, in conjunction with The Daily Examiner's 'Let's Not Wait' campaign, were successful in having the 50km/h speed zones extended and new warning signs erected on the southern and northern approaches to Ulmarra.
Although the community's goal was to have a speed camera installed, these new measures were welcomed as an interim way to reduce speeding motorists.
"During the day the signs have made a huge difference," wife, Krystal Brown said.
"People are slowing down. Some people think these changes have done nothing, but it's done a lot for us."
While the truck has already been removed and the rubbish pile is steadily decreasing in size as crews haul it away, Ulmarra residents are reflecting on what could have been.
"(I) just spoke to one of the young girls that live in the house that the truck landed beside. She said 'We heard it coming, we thought it was coming through the house. All we could do was hug each other'," the Ulmarra Village Community News Facebook page later posted.
"Three young girls should not have to be so fearful to live in their own house. This is not the first, second or third time this has happened to them."