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Boxing Day Storms Cause Havoc

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A fallen tree blocks Gordonbrook-Memerambi Road (Photo: Nanango Electorate Office)

December 27, 2017

The Boxing Day storms caused mayhem in parts of the South Burnett, with houses losing roofs, others damaged, farm sheds flattened and roads blocked with fallen trees.

A mini-tornado is being blamed for damage in the Kumbia and Ellesmere areas, including one home that completely lost its roof. A number of farm sheds were also destroyed.

Cr Gavin Jones said residents he had spoken to described the storm as “like being in Cyclone Yasi or Cyclone Debbie”.

Homes at Cushnie, Greenview and Wooroonden were also reportedly unroofed, along with the destruction of multiple farm sheds.

Three storm cells swept through the region from the south, leaving havoc in their wake.

Hail destroyed crops – including stonefruit, sorghum, corn and watermelons – smashed windows and damaged farming infrastructure in a swathe which appears to have especially targeted farmers in the Kumbia, Hivesville, Mondure, Cushnie and Stonelands areas.

The accompanying heavy rain and strong winds also caused much damage.

Large trees were brought down across roads, and flash flooding briefly cut several others.

Falling branches damaged many powerlines, causing widespread blackouts from Cooyar to Mundubbera.

Major infrastructure was also affected, including the Gordonbrook Water Treatment Plant which was hit by a power failure.

The storm damage forced the South Burnett Regional Council to impose temporary Emergency Water Restrictions in the Kingaroy town area from 5:00am on Wednesday.

A Council spokesperson said some areas of Kingaroy were also experiencing reduced pressure or no supply of water due to a number of power outages across the region.

Ergon crews were out all night repairing lines but many areas were still without power on Wednesday evening.

More than 400 homes in the Kumbia, Mannuem, Inverlaw, Benair, Boyneside, Ellesmere, Haly Creek and Ironpot areas were still without power at 6:45pm on Wednesday due to fallen powerlines.

About 640 homes in the Wondai, Byee, Marshlands, Hivesville, Proston, Mt McEuen, Chelmsford and Silverleaf areas were also without power at 6:45pm, although Ergon Energy hoped to have the supply restored at 7:00pm.

Smaller numbers of Ergon customers were also still blacked out at Mondure, Crawford and Gordonbrook.

More than 350 residents in the Durong, Ballogie, Wilkesdale, Memerambi, Wooroolin and Chahpingah areas were without power from 8:17pm on Tuesday until 2:23pm on Wednesday.

About 45 residents on the northern side of Kingaroy were also without power for about seven hours after the storm.

UPDATE December 28: Initially, only heard reports of pea-sized hail in the region. However, it quickly became apparent that large hail had badly damaged local crops. We have updated the report to reflect this.

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