By DAVID MOASE
GARY Singh and Swarn Sandhu have been on their Mackays Road banana plantations for a combined total of nearly 50 years but neither has seen many downpours like those on Thursday morning.
As their hillside properties were lashed by wind and rain they could only watch as banana plants worth thousands of dollars were washed away.
Yesterday, with the sun shining brightly, they were able to take in the full extent of the damage that will need up to two years to repair.
"It is the worst damage I have seen in one night," Mr Sandhu, who lost about 40 per cent of his crop, said.
"It was like a mini cyclone up here."
Mr Singh said the destruction occurred very quickly.
"At 6.30am there were only a few suckers knocked down; by 8am 99 per cent of the plants were down," he said.
"You couldn't get out of the house because of the amount of wind and water."
The cost of the damage to the plantations is difficult to estimate at this early stage, although Mr Singh thinks he has lost $10-15,000 worth of plants, while Mr Sandhuputs his losses between $30,000 and $40,000.
"It's not just the loss of the fruit from those plants but the cost of replacing them as well," Mr Singh said.
"It is too cold to replant now, we will have to wait until September. Then it will take 18 months to two years for the plants to grow."
Meanwhile, the rain was not such bad news for Blueberry Farms of Australia general manager Peter McPherson.
While the Corindi business suffered some erosion problems and 'incidental' damage to berries, Mr McPherson said this was outweighed by the fact all the dams were overflowing.