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Family rescued from car stuck under fallen tree after storms hit south-east Queensland

By Lia Walsh and staff, Thursday May 13, 2021 - 04:24 EST
ABC image
A family was rescued from their car during Sunshine Coast storms last night. - ABC

A family of four was trapped for hours on the Sunshine Coast last night after a severe hail storm toppled a tree onto its car and brought down live powerlines.

The family, including two young children, was travelling on Arundell Avenue in Nambour when the tree fell just before 6:00pm.

The ABC understands a man in the vehicle warned the family to stay calm and not try to exit the vehicle, because of the risk posed by the downed lines.

They called for help from inside the car, with Energex rushing to the scene to shut-off the power.

Alana Middleton was in the car. 

"[It was the] scariest night of my life," Ms Middleton wrote on Facebook.

"Trying to get the kids to not move was the most [scary] and hardest moments."

They escaped the vehicle uninjured, about two hours later.

"[It is] never a situation anyone wants to find themselves in," Rob Stalk from Energex said.

"Luckily for this family they obviously knew the right thing to do and that was to stay in the car."

Shoppers evacuated after water pours through ceiling

Emergency crews were also called to a Kmart store at the Sunshine Plaza shopping centre at Maroochydore.

Water began pouring through the ceiling and shoppers were evacuated.

Michael Kirby was inside Kmart at the time.

"We heard the roof creaking and I looked into that direction and the roof started to give way," he told the ABC.

"First came a lot of dust then all the chipboard. Then a large PVC pole fell through gushing heaps of water out, lights were hanging dangling from the chipboard roof."

There were 110 calls for help last night on the Sunshine Coast and 50 from Brisbane when the line of fast moving storms dumped hail and heavy rain during the Wednesday peak hour.

Commuter traffic backed up and rail and bus lines experienced hour-long delays.

Low-lying Brisbane suburbs of Woolloongabba, Moorooka and Sailsbury had localised flooding and cars were stranded, further adding to traffic chaos.

More than 17,000 homes and businesses lost power at the height of the storms and more than 50 powerlines were struck down, mostly in the Sunshine Coast Area.

Energy provider Energex recorded 180,000 lightning strikes in south-east Queensland overnight.

Energex spokesman Danny Donald told ABC Radio Brisbane the company tracks lightning strikes using a series of aerials around the network which identified each unique lightning strike.

Mr Donald said on Wednesday between 300 to 400 strikes per minute were being recorded at the height of the storm activity.

The trough that brought the storms is clearing today

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said the severe storms had been brewing since yesterday morning over the Darling Downs before moving eastwards over the Toowoomba region and then through to the south-east coast.

Meteorologist Peter Claassen said hail moved with the storm cells, hitting Esk the worst, as well as Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.

"As it moved over Esk [north-west of Brisbane] we did see reports of large to giant hail ? of four-to-five centimetres," he said.

"Caboolture saw the most rainfall, 54-milimetres, most of which fell in about a half-hour time frame ... quite a lot rainfall through the north of Brisbane as well," he said.

The storms moved offshore the south-east coast about 8:00pm and cleared from the Fraser Coast by 11:00pm.

A trough that's been bringing the wild weather to much of the state is moving offshore today, clearing the way for cool, dry air.


© ABC 2021

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