Noel Hanson spreads sawdust to cover the mud after the deluge at Torbanlea race track overnight.
Noel Hanson spreads sawdust to cover the mud after the deluge at Torbanlea race track overnight. ALISTAIR BRIGHTMAN

Wild storm batters Coast

HEAVY rain bucketed down and gale force winds battered the Fraser Coast late Friday night and into Saturday morning, leaving a trail of destruction behind.

Tony and Nola Pope of Mungar, near Maryborough, said a storm hit about 12.30am and lasted a very short, but furious, time.

“There is a lot of damage done and it is going to take a long time to clean up this mess,” Mr Pope said.

At Brooweena, Tina Greenhalgh said the storm felled a large gum tree that took out the school fence and downed trees on properties.

“It was freaky.”

Leslie Brand from the Brooweena store said she woke about midnight and wasn't sure if she was hearing an F111 flying over the town or a freight train on the tracks.

Her husband Bill said he also woke to the sound of a “big roar” as trees started falling.

“It continued for about an hour.”

Mr Brand spent most of Saturday morning clearing the Biggenden Road, which was blocked by fallen trees, and then went home to clean up his own property and the town.

Hervey Bay Car Sales employee John Maynard made an emergency dash to his car yard on Boat Harbour Drive about 1am on Saturday as the storm worsened in the Bay.

Wind gusts were recorded at 80kmh in Torquay about that time.

Mr Maynard's fears proved founded when, after moving all the cars off the main lot, the giant canopy over the yard split open.

His prompt action averted damage to any of the cars. The cost to replace the large canopy is expected to be in the thousands.

At the Torbanlea Picnic race meeting Dale McMillan from Delux Party Hire was also racing around in the dark on Saturday morning trying to save the 17 corporate tents he had erected just 12 hours before.

Two of the tents were destroyed but fortunately the others held.

“When the wind and rain hits it turns the tents into giant parachutes and there is no holding them down,” he said.

“I was amazed that we didn't lose more tents.

“Surprisingly the Torbanlea track and surrounds weathered the storm well, although truck loads of sawdust had to be brought in to cover the soaked walkways.”

An Ergon Energy spokesman said more than 9000 customers from Stanthorpe to Bundaberg had their power supply interrupted by the fierce winds.

“One of the worst affected areas was the Gin Gin hinterland, where six spans of high-voltage powerlines came down across the river about 3am on Saturday.

“A significant number of customers in the Maryborough area were affected by smaller outages to the high-voltage network or because their service lines came down.”



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