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Mini-cyclone does huge damage in blink of an eye

By Catherine Clifford & Anna Moulder, Thursday January 17, 2013 - 09:30 EDT

A cattle farmer from Bellata, between Moree and Narrabri, has described a scene of devastation after a 10-minute storm cell ripped through every building on his property.

Ian MacCue told ABC Local Radio winds gusting at 137-kilometres an hour tore through his property on Sunday night, bringing down power lines and damaging buildings.

"Three of those big cement poles have just been snapped off at ground level and there's power lines hanging throughout the trees and the paddocks everywhere," he said.

"Every building on our two properties has been partially annihilated and the hay sheds, the grain sheds, all the tools and everything in the machinery shed are, you know, strewn over hundreds of hectares."

Ian MacCue says he has no power and 2,000 head of hungry cattle he can't feed or water.

He says his son was in another part of the feedlot and he rang him and said, 'Dad, get out of the feedlot; it's going to go.'

Mr MacCue says the conservative estimate on his losses is around $500,000.

He says power poles were being brought in from Inverell, but it would take some time for them to be installed and the wires replaced.

Rod Jericho is Ian MacCue's neighbour on Millie Road at Bellata and turned up afterwards to lend a helping hand.

"Ian's one of my best mates and I guess all I've done today is come over and help Ian start the clean-up," he said.

"I've brought a couple of my workmen and a front-end loader and we're just picking up the stuff that's strewn all over the paddocks."

Rod Jericho says he's never seen anything like it.

"You see it in film clips, like Cyclone Tracy, or, you know, places that have been totally wiped out by storms and that's exactly what happened here," he said.

"There were structures that you thought would never blow down, but they were just twisted like a piece of balsa wood."

Elsewhere, Wee Waa resident, John Clements, says the clean-up has been lengthy and is still ongoing.

"I mean, I can't describe the wind it was just unbelievably strong and it just got into the big trees and tore the tops out of them, you know, trees that were 50 to 60 years old," he said.

"I think we ended up with a pile pushed up by a front-end loader that would be 15, 16, maybe 17 feet high and then 40 or 50 feet across the base."

Acting Region Controller with Namoi SES, Andrew Galvin, says the storms tested the resources of his region's 300 active volunteers.

"As a result of this event there were some 265 calls for assistance received and of those 233 were in the Namoi region," he said.

"We had impact across a broad geographical area and of our 16 units in the Namoi region 15 of them were responding to storm requests."


© ABC 2013

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