Tough times: Peter Farrell with his son, Alex, cutting up fallen gumtrees at Congarrinni Road North.
Tough times: Peter Farrell with his son, Alex, cutting up fallen gumtrees at Congarrinni Road North. Bruce Thomas

Valley hit by mini cyclone

THE storm season has made a terrifying and costly mark already, but Mother Nature has struck again with a front on Wednesday afternoon felling trees, unroofing buildings and pummelling some areas with massive hail.

In the Nambucca Valley the storm lasted a mere 15 minutes but left a slew of damage to businesses, homes and bushland.

Emergency workers were yesterday flat out removing huge gum trees which were ripped from their roots and torn to shreds.

Nambucca Shire SES local controller, Richard Townend, said the service responded to 54 calls for assistance.

“There was extensive tree damage and a couple of roofs were ripped off houses,” Mr Townend said.

“We had to get the cranes in to do a few jobs and the power was out for most of the night at North Congarrinni near Taylors Arm.”

“We had a fair crew with SES volunteers coming from Bellingen, Coffs, Urunga, Wauchope, Kempsey and South West Rocks as well as local fire brigades and the NSW RFS.”

Macksville and primarily Congarrinni Road North and Talarm Road residents bore the brunt of the storm.

Peter Farrell was busy with his chainsaw and said his neighbours spent the morning chopping up branches and dragging larger pieces off the road with a tractor.

“That used to be a tree,” he said pointing to a wooden shard above his chicken coop. “It landed on the chicken coop and luckily the gate was closed so the chickens weren’t in.

“You couldn’t hear trees crashing down over the wind and rain.”

Macksville business owner Peter Owens described the unprecedented event as a ‘mini cyclone’.

“I was down the road when horrendous rain and hail rolled in,” Mr Owens said. “A tree flew across and snapped in front of me.”

Mr Owens returned to his dry cleaning premise to find a panel had been peeled off the roof, taking power cables with it and damaging his awning.

At the Macksville Memorial Aquatic Centre, swimming teacher Hayley Cummings called her charges from the water because of the lightning.

“We got everyone in the gym and first-aid room and a mother was under the barbecue area with her nine-month-old baby when it started hailing,” Ms Cummings said. “She covered the baby with her body for protection and was covered in welts afterwards.”

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