Kim Lewis from Cooloola Berries.
Kim Lewis from Cooloola Berries. Renee Albrecht

Farmers reveal crushing losses after 'Hailnado' hits Gympie

SCENES of Thursday afternoon's insidious "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.

 

GUTTED: Jason Lewis from Cooloola Berries
GUTTED: Jason Lewis from Cooloola Berries Renee Albrecht

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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.

"It happened so quickly.

"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."

 

Photo:
Photo: Troy Jegers

She said they'd lost more than 800-900kg of blueberries, which will have adverse effects on next year's crops.

While the strawberry season had almost ended, 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 anything like that fury.

"Lucky enough for us it didn't happen earlier, because it's nearly the end of our season, 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 simply to repair what was broken.

Gympie Times


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