Whole crops decimated as tornado-like storm tears through properties days before harvest
YEARS of hard work have been destroyed in minutes as a monster storm packing tornado-like winds tore through farms west of Maryborough.
At Yengarie, Steve Miller lost whole pineapple, avocado, banana and sugar cane crops.
It’s a devastating blow for the farmer who has not only lost the equivalent of two years’ income but also the season’s profits he planned to use for his wedding.
STEVE Miller was hoping to use the income from the harvest of his pineapple crops to pay for his upcoming wedding.
But in a flash of rain, lightning and hail, his entire farm was destroyed.
The manager of the Golden Pines farm in Yengarie was devastated to find thousands of pineapples and avocados, which he spent years planting and cultivating, destroyed in the tornado-like storm that decimated much of Maryborough West on Thursday.
Mr Miller’s property was among the worst hit.
His avocado orchard, teeming with fresh, green avocados only days ago, was stripped bare from heavy winds and hail.
Thousands of pineapples were damaged and sugar cane plantations were ripped out by the roots.
Lychee and banana trees on the property were also battered.
But Mr Miller’s heartbreak is compounded by the fact they were going to harvest next week, with the damage now causing them to go without two years’ worth of income.
“We had the best crop of young avocados for the next season out there, and they’re all gone,” Mr Miller said.
“That’s a couple of hundred thousand dollars just gone.
“And we have no crop insurance to cover it all.”
It will take Mr Miller and his partner Ramona Waters as long as two years until another crop will be harvested off the farm.
Mr Miller told the Chronicle he was hoping the income from the harvest would cover the cost of their marriage.
“It takes up to two years to grow a pineapple. All that hard work is just gone in a night,” he said.”
“I remember watching the computer and thinking to myself ‘Oh no, the November harvest will be gone’.
“Then it came down and there was nothing I could do at that point.
“It was a massacre.” Thankfully, Mr Miller said no one in his family was injured and no pets were lost during the storm.
The pair now face the task of starting their harvest again and repairing the damage to their property.
“It’s heartbreaking to see the farm like this,” Ms Waters said.
Trees were felled and power cut to tens of thousands of homes across the region as tornado-like conditions lashed the Wide Bay on Thursday.
Homes along Gayndah Rd in Maryborough West were among those hit hardest as windows were smashed and roofs torn off.
The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast more storms over the coming days, with strong wind warnings in place until at least tomorrow.
Maryborough Police Superintendent Craig Hawkins said Emergency Services were working with the Fraser Coast Regional Council during the storm recovery.
He said the storm had moved just south of Hervey Bay and no significant issues had developed in the area.
“It is not unique to the Fraser Coast area but the important thing is that people of this area need to expect it,” Supt Hawkins said.
“What’s important at this point in time is that we don’t get complacent, and secondly that people heed the warnings people are out there.
“If roads are flooded, don’t
venture into it – not only are you putting yourselves at risk but you are putting at risk other people who are coming to your aid that may not necessarily get to you.”
Supt Hawkins said there might be events of a similar nature that could occur over the next day and it was likely that some power connections would be lost again.
WIPED OUT: Yengarie farmer Steve Miller among the remains of his lychee trees, (above centre) his damaged sheds, (above right) branches damage a house on Maryborough Biggenden Rd, Maryborough West. Trees were uprooted and damaged fencing on Old Mill Road at Yengarie, (above centre) volunteer Rhys Jackson (left) helps at Zane Haas’s property at Oakhurst, (above right) damage to a house.
STRIPPED BARE: Steve Miller among the avocado trees denuded by hail and wind.
Debris litters Old Mill Road at Yengarie.
Traffic builds up along Maryborough Biggenden Road as workers remove fallen trees at Copenhagen Bend.
The clean up along Maryborough Biggenden Rd at Maryborough West.
Rhys Jackson helps clean up after the storm.