Se­vere weather thrashes farm for a third time

NewsMail - - FRONT PAGE - SARAH STEGER [email protected]

A DE­STRUC­TIVE storm has un­leashed strong winds and a heavy down­pour at a fam­ily farm near Gin Gin, leav­ing a path of de­struc­tion that left only 25 per cent of the prop­erty un­scathed.

Bun­gadoo res­i­dent Betina Wilks said she re­turned to her fam­ily farm on Tues­day to find her home a mess.

“My trans­port trailer was thrown 200 me­tres and was de­stroyed (and) large parts of my home have suc­cumbed to wide­spread dam­age,” she said.

“Our stock yard fences for our 50 head of cat­tle were top­pled, and the wa­ter pump and shed, dairy and other var­i­ous work­shops and sheds were ei­ther de­stroyed or dam­aged.”

Footage of the dam­age taken by Ms Wilks shows fallen fences, flat­tened sheds, up­rooted trees, torn-off roof­ing and an up­turned trailer.

Ms Wilks es­ti­mated about 75 per cent of her farm had been af­fected by the storm.

And though a few of her friends have since come to help her clean up her prop­erty, Ms Wilks said she “didn’t know where to be­gin”.

“I am at loss to know how to re­build,” she said.

After com­ing home to the dam­age, Ms Wilks sent pho­tos of her home to Hig­gins Storm Chas­ing, who helped her set up her now-up-and-run­ning Go­FundMe page.

“Jeff and his team helped make me (it) and sent though a do­na­tion thanks to the sup­port of his cus­tomers,” she said.

“I never ex­pected them to help me like this.”

The dam­age from Tues­day’s storm spread far and wide around the Gin Gin area, with Bundaberg Re­gion coun­cil­lor Wayne Hon­our say­ing his wife, who watched the storm un­fold, had never seen winds as strong.

He said re­ported rain­fall had var­ied from 15mm to 80mm.

Un­for­tu­nately, this is far from the first time Ms Wilks’s prop­erty has been hit by a ma­jor weather event.

“I haven’t had much luck since I moved to Queens­land,” she said.

In 2013 Ms Wilks’s prop­erty was se­verely flooded and in 2016 a fire de­stroyed her home.

“And now a (storm) im­pacted (it),” she said.

“I rely on my Lucerne tree farm as in­come. My work with my trees gives me so much en­joy­ment, but this has now been de­stroyed. The build­ing that housed my grow­ing trees was ripped to shreds.”

Bu­reau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy me­te­o­rol­o­gist An­drew Bu­falino told the NewsMail the storm that hit the re­gion was “not a tor­nado, but a mesovor­tice ... which are com­mon but ex­tremely iso­lated, and are usu­ally con­fined to a very small area within a storm”.

“Mesovor­tices can be ex­tremely rough,” he added.

Ms Wilks’s Go­FundMe page has so far raised $3605, with at least 37 peo­ple al­ready do­nat­ing to the cause.

To help, visit the page on­line by go­ing to https://goo.gl/ DX­mo7P.

Pho­tos: Sun­rise

PATH OF DE­STRUC­TION: A se­vere storm on Tues­day has dam­aged more than 75 per cent of a Bun­gadoo res­i­dent’s prop­erty. IN­SET: Farm owner Betina Wilks.

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