Bonalbo cleans up after big storm
By PATRIZIA REIMER
"WE HAVE to find a better way to spring clean. This way's quick, but messy."
Tabulam Road resident Leon Skybinsky cannot believe Wednesday's storm cleaned up his yard like it did. Describing it as a mini tornado he said 'this shouldn't have happened'.
"This shed was bolted down, but it got lifted up and thrown 100m. Another wasn't bolted down and it's still here."
Leon has been weather-watching and collecting wind speed, rainfall and other data for 10 years. He said in 14 years on his property he had never witnessed a storm like the one which hit Tabulam and Bonalbo two days ago.
"I'm an ex-Vietnam vet, I came here for the quiet. This is not good for me," he said
His wife Christine Headrick was 10 minutes away in Bonalbo having lunch with her sisters when she saw the menacing storm approaching. She made it home, parked her car under the car port and sheltered inside with her two dogs with seconds to spare.
"It was pretty wild and I was absolutely terrified," she said.
"I was just about to lie down on the floor with the dogs when it stopped."
Leon was in Bonalbo for the duration of the storm and found himself helping a friend sweep the water from his shop when he got a call to go home.
He could not believe what he saw. At least 60 mature trees felled, a feed shed lifted clean off its concrete moorings, an awning blown clear off the property, a 3sq.m zincalum shed picked up and tossed over the main shed, and six-metre aerials bent like twigs. Every time he looked around he saw more destruction. A day after the event he saw a piece of roofing iron half a kilometre away and he's not even sure which of his five buildings it belonged to.
Before his equipment was knocked off the roof it recorded a wind speed of 158km/h.
"It had to be a tornado, there was no way it could have picked up a shed if it wasn't," he said.
Tabulam SES unit controller Neville O'Malley said a super cell hit the ground at Leon's and his neighbour's property at the same time as an incredible hailstorm battered Bonalbo.
A crew of eight volunteers have responded to 10 calls since Wednesday.
"We had a couple of trees down, one landed on a house at Bonalbo and we returned the next day with the council and their backhoe," he said.
"There wasn't much damage to the roof, it just pushed it in."