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Residents feel wild winds 'trying to lift house'

By Melissa Maddison, Friday January 25, 2013 - 12:00 EDT

A north Queensland resident has described a terrifying experience as a 'mini-tornado' swept through a beach suburb south of Mackay last night.

Grasstree Beach resident Baz Wattene says very strong winds hit about 10:30pm (AEST) and lasted for about 15 minutes.

He says the force of the wind was much stronger that what he experienced during Cyclone Yasi.

"We thought the roof was gone because it was absolutely screaming," he said.

"You could feel it, the updraft of the whole thing as if it was trying to lift the house up.

"That's why we thought the roof had gone but anyway what it was, it was actually branches being fired at the house and pagola, so we didn't do any structural damage."

It is the second night of wild weather, with a waterspout reported at nearby Hay Point on Wednesday night.

Mr Wattene says the storm left a trail of destruction.

He says it was a frightening experience.

"I thought the roof was gone, there was just that much noise but jeez it was the updraft, you could actually feel it inside the house," he said.

"Like Yasi was the same, when it came through you could feel it trying to lift things.

"Well this was probably five or six times stronger.

"I thought oh my God, is the house going to come off the stays or the poles, or what's going to happen?"

Meanwhile, salvage operations have begun in the Whitsundays to retrieve several boats that broke their moorings in the wild weather.

Resident Dan van Blarcom says a number of boats have been destroyed and debris is littering the Airlie Beach foreshore.

He says a number have sunk at their moorings.

Mr van Blarcom says at least 30 boats have been damaged.

"There's the Venus, built in 1947 at Canberra and Nicholson in the UK, a beautiful old vessel built the old style with riveted iron plates, she's on the rock wall at Abel Point Marina," he said.

Mr van Blarcom says salvage operations are already being planned.

"It's interesting because there's a lot of people that are down helping their mates and there's a couple of salvage operators that ... have picked on the vessels that they are quite confident that they can get retrieved with a minimum of damage," he said.


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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