'WE'VE LOST IT ALL'
REGION'S FARMERS COUNT THE COST GYMPIE'S WORST HIT AREAS WHY THE STORM WAS SO BRUTAL
SCENES of Thursday afternoon’s “Hailnado” left farmers all over the Gympie region reeling and lost for what to do next.
More than 5000 people lost power in their homes in the Gympie Regional Council area, while nearly 30,000 lightning strikes were recorded, but local producers were the worst affected.
The tornado-like conditions wreaked havoc, inundated properties and caused at least hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.
Jason and Kim Lewis (pictured above) of Cooloola Berries at Wolvi said they were “completely obliterated”.
“We’ve lost all our blueberries, the strawberries are all finished and it looks as though our lavenders are smashed to bits,” Mrs Lewis said.
“We’ve never experienced anything like this in the 12 years that we’ve been here.”
Mrs Lewis said it was a freak storm.
“It happened so quickly,” she said.
“We heard on the radio that it was going to be a bad storm, so we tried to keep everyone calm.
“The hail got bigger and louder... just like that we lost everything.”
She said they’d lost more than 800-900kg of blueberries, which would hit next year’s crop.
The strawberry season had almost ended, but Mrs Lewis said Cooloola Berries had easily lost a month’s worth of income just in strawberries.
“It’s the diversification we’ve lost with the lavenders, strawberries and blueberries,” she said.
Pie Creek strawberry farmers Rick and Rosslyn Tramacchi said they had also lost their entire crop, but felt fortunate the storm had not come earlier in the season.
“We’re not big enough for a fury like that,” Mr Tramacchi said.
“I’ve seen some storms but we’ve never heard or seen any- thing like that fury.
“Lucky enough for us it didn’t happen earlier, because it’s nearly the end of our sea- son, but we still lost all of it.”
Mr Tramacchi said he had never been able to see through the dense trees behind and across the road from their property.
“All the trees have been stripped bare, you can see sky through them now,” he said.
Neighbour Alan Haack, whose wholesale nursery was almost completely destroyed, said the storm had also taken an emotional toll.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time, but I’m 71 now and I’m tired,” Mr Haack said.
“I’ll just have to try and clean it all up.”
With wet weather continuing over the weekend in Gympie, Mrs Lewis said her family’s first priority was to repair what was broken.
Photo: Renee Albrecht
THE AFTERMATH: Rick Tramacchi, with grandkids Levi (left) and Jada Peacock, reflects on the damages of Thursday afternoon’s vicious storms.
GUTTED: Jason Lewis from Cooloola Berries in front of his stripped blueberry patch.