Wild storms lash outback town


With winds of almost 80km/h, the town was hit by a second storm that dumped 20mm and some light hail in just 10 minutes several hours later.

The mayor of Balonne Shire, Cr Robert Buchan, a local since 1948, said it was the worst storm to hit the town in 25 years.

He said there had been damage to homes, shops and roads but most had escaped largely unscathed.

"There were a lot of trees over cars, we had trees landing on buildings, damaging the roofs, and water damage in some houses and business," he said.

"It came through so quickly and the drain system couldn’t drain the water away quickly enough.

"But generally speaking, we’ve got off very well. There were some very large trees that went over that didn’t hit anything. It’s not that no-one’s affected but it’s not Cyclone Larry."

SES volunteers were called out to 12 emergencies last night, working until midnight to provide tarpaulins and sandbags to businesses in the CBD affected by the rising waters.

Most of them are council employees and were preparing to help clean up the battered CBD this morning.

"One business had a foot of water come through it, there was some corrugated iron blowing around the place and roof damage from the guttering overflowing," said the SES’s Andy Christie.

On the plus side, last night’s storm was the climax of a solid month of rain that has all but eliminated the drought in that area.

Cr Buchan said the Beardmore Dam, once down to just 4 per cent capacity, was now overflowing and the parched landscape of recent years was now healthy and green.

Water harvesters are also harvesting water for the first time in years, he said.

The last great storm to affect the town was in 1982 when about 150mm fell on a single night.

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