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Storm leaves trail of destruction

A jacaranda snapped in two by Saturday’s mini-hurricane on the Pacific Highway at Ulmarra.
A jacaranda snapped in two by Saturday’s mini-hurricane on the Pacific Highway at Ulmarra. Debrah Novak

A FEROCIOUS storm described as a mini-hurricane left a trail of destruction in its wake when it cut a swathe through Ulmarra late on Saturday afternoon.

Horizontal rain and hail, coupled with strong winds, smashed windows, caused minor flooding in homes and businesses, snapped tree branches and stripped leaves from vegetation when the storm hit about 5.40pm.

The Pacific Highway was cut north and south of the town for about 20 minutes when branches torn from trees were hurled on to the highway.

Ulmarra Hotel publican Edwina Baird was preparing for the evening rush when the storm hit, flooding the hotel's kitchen.

“It just poured down at 5.40. It was like a mini-hurricane,” she said.

“There was stuff flying around everywhere.

“It just hailed and hailed.

“The rain and hail were driving in almost horizontally.

“Everybody's cars got hammered by the hail.”

Yesterday morning she said they took stock of the damage and began the clean-up.

“We had about 20 people arrive here this morning armed with rakes and chainsaws to help clean up,” she said.

“There was about 10 inches (25cm) of leaf litter covering the grass out the back.

“We have lost several trees out the back.

"The garden is trashed, but it will live to see another day.”

As well as nearly every house in Ulmarra copping the fury of the storm, power went out in the town and hail choked gutters at Studdys Ampol and post office, causing water to flood into the business.

The SES was kept busy with calls to tend to broken windows and skylights, and remove fallen trees.

Ulmarra SES controller John Leaske said they worked until 10pm on Saturday and all day yesterday repairing damage in more than a dozen call-outs.

“For every call-out I would say there are four or five others that have managed to get help from neighbours or friends,” he said.

“Most houses have scored some damage in Ulmarra.

“I called in some teams from the Grafton City unit who are doing some window and roofing jobs.”

Mr Leaske described the storm as horrendous.

“Within 10 to 15 seconds it went from being a normal day to this horrendous roar of the strong winds and then the hail and rain hit,” he said.

“I was expecting a lot of roof damage but there seemed to be a lot more window damage in this storm.”

Mr Leaske said Grafton SES also was kept busy with call-outs around the city and at Southgate.

Residents as far north as Tullymorgan were not spared by the storm.

Daily Examiner photographer Debrah Novak said one family told her 25cm of leaf litter blanketed Jackybulbin Road on Sunday.

They said the storm cut through their property, but their neighbours were relatively untouched.


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