STONEFRUIT orchards in the South Burnett are among those reeling from the storm supercells that marauded through the region on Thursday afternoon.
According to the Member for Nanango, Deb Frecklington, she has been made aware of one that has lost 95 per cent of the crop left on the trees, about three-quarters of the crop.
“As well as the many of thousands of dollars lost from that, 60 or so pickers were now out of work and their vans and temporary accommodation had been smashed,” she said. “It’s like a tornado hit Tansey, Coolabunia and Kumbia, a terrifying experience.”
Older-style hail netting was no protection for some in the face of the battering.
Ms Frecklington praised a young mother whose car windows were smashed by hail when she was caught in the Coolabunia storm, and who then had to shield her baby from the stones pounding in through the open windows.
Weatherzone meteorologist,Craig McIntosh said two main supercells went through the Wide Bay-Burnett region on Thursday afternoon.
"The stand-out event yesterday was the tornado reported at Tansey just after 3pm," he said.
"Earlier in the day there was tennis ball-size hail – up to 7cm wide – around Kumbia.
"Also throughout the day with thunderstorms, there was hail reported at Proston and Murgon and 3-5cm hail at Gympie."
Mr McIntosh said he had seen pictures of trees snapped in half and damage to property.
Ms Frecklington said people in her electorate, thousands of whom have been without power since yesterday afternoon, were focused on recovery today.
“Roads have been cleared but many, many people have been displaced, I’m not sure how many at this stage, so temporary housing is being sought.
“They are resilient communities but they’re really having to dig deep today.”
For some, the supercells also included solid rainfalls with 52mm reported at Gympie and 58mm at Maryborough.
In the Moreton Bay region, Bellthorpe recorded 63mm to 9am Friday morning, while an isolated storm dropped 52mm at Mt Ogg in the eastern Carnavons.
Minister for Agriculture, Mark Furner said the pictures of ruined crops were shocking.
“The ferocity with which the hail and wind hit during the storm was incredibly intense,” he said.
“I encourage any producers who have suffered significant damage to apply for an Individual Disaster Stricken Property declaration.
“Freight subsidies can be applied for under an IDSP declaration.
“I look forward to visiting affected landholders tomorrow to see if there’s anything the state government can do to assist further.”
Fire and Emergency Services Minister, Craig Crawford said it was likely the number of SES tasks would increase during the day.
“Overnight to 5.30am, there were more than 300 calls for assistance with 289 of these in the north coast region,” Mr Crawford said.
“There were 170 callouts in Gympie, and 53 in the South Burnett.
“The damage was mostly structural, including hail damage to skylights and windows, trees down and leaking roofs.”
Mr Crawford said 49 SES volunteers were deploying for up to three days from the Brisbane region to Gympie to assist with tasks, including chainsaw and tarp requests.
“Thankfully, the forecast is that severe storms are less likely today in the areas such as the South Burnett, however, the potential for heavy rainfall may affect the clean-up in some areas,” he said.
“Local authorities are meeting this morning and will provide an update about any further assistance that may be required.”
If you need help from the SES call 132 500, or call 000 in an emergency.
To arrange an inspection by a Department of Agriculture and Fisheries officer, call 132 523.
DAF can also assist producers to complete the application for an Individual Disaster Stricken Property declaration.
- This story first appeared on the Qld Country Life.