'WE'VE LOST IT ALL'

RE­GION'S FARM­ERS COUNT THE COST GYMPIE'S WORST HIT AR­EAS WHY THE STORM WAS SO BRU­TAL

The Gympie Times - - FRONT PAGE - JOSH PRE­STON AND PHILIPPE COQUERAND

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

Photo:

Photo: Troy Jegers

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.

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