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Country parish damaged as super-cell thunderstorms rip through South Burnett region

Close call: A fallen tree at a property in Gympie, Queensland. The violent storms that swept across parts of southeast Queensland left a trail of destruction and injuries.
Photo: AAP

“JUST awful” was the way Fr Chukwudi Chinaka described the scene as he drove around his country parish inspecting the damage left by wild storms on October 11.

Super-cell thunderstorms ripped through the South Burnett on that Thursday afternoon leaving a path of destruction as they moved through towards the coast.

Fr Chinaka, administrator of the Kingaroy and Nanango parishes, drove around the area the day after the storms checking on Church property and parishioners.

The storms, that brought powerful winds and dropped hailstones as big as tennis balls in some parts, uprooted trees, damaged buildings and destroyed crops.

“Things were smashed, trees were down, it was quite awful,” Fr Chinaka said.

The small town of Kumbia and the locality of Coolabunia were worst affected near Kingaroy.

Fr Chinaka said Our Lady of Peace Church, a wooden structure at Kumbia, was hail-damaged and had windows broken.

“The church will be 100 years old next year and we were looking at doing some renovations for the centenary,” he said.

Many parishioners were affected by the storms.

“But, in the country, people are very tough,” he said. “They’ll say, ‘It was awful, Father, but we’re good’.

“These were people dealing with drought.

“I started here in January, so it’s been a big year – from drought to this.”

Dairy farmers Cathy and Ian Scott, parishioners at Nanango, were without power for more than two days and had to waste about 14,000 litres of milk.

“But that should be covered by insurance,” Mrs Scott said.

They were able to keep milking their 220 head of cattle with the use of their own generators.

“We were milking; we just had to let milk out on the ground,” Mrs Scott said.

“We could milk the cows but we couldn’t cool the milk.”

Two sheds on the Scotts’ farm were damaged and a small crop of wheat was flattened.

Mrs Scott said their farm, near Nanango, was on the edge of the storm but, still, “everything was banging and crashing”.

At Gympie, parish priest Fr Pat Cassidy said St Patrick’s Church was damaged by hail.

“We found multiple breakages and cracks in the stained-glass windows,” he said.

He said the repairs were likely to be expensive, but he expected the work would be covered by insurance.

“The stained-glass windows would’ve been in the church forever. It was built in 1887,” Fr Cassidy said.

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