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Town of Pratten rallies around storm-hit neighbours

 

The aftermath of the storm that slammed into the Southern Downs community of Pratten overnight.
The aftermath of the storm that slammed into the Southern Downs community of Pratten overnight. Terry West/Higgins Storm Chasing

 

UPDATE: PRATTEN residents are already thinking about what they can do to help the locals worst hit by Wednesday night's super cell storm.

Resident Diane Lawlor said after the intial clean-up was finished, she hoped to organise a fundraising event for locals including Chris and Melissa Short, who lost their nearly-completed home in the storm.

"I think people have got to have a few days to clear their heads, clear the mess and then we can look ahead," Miss Lawlor said.

"The community spirit is extremely high."

The iron roof of a Pratten's St James Anglican church was punctured by flying branches in the midst of the storm.

Warwick parish priest Rod Winterton said he was grateful the damage wasn't worse.

"There're two holes punched in the roof by branches, and a couple of holes stabbed in stain glassed windows," he said.

"They've punched through iron."

Homes were badly damaged by storms in Pratten near Warwick overnight.
Homes were badly damaged by storms in Pratten near Warwick overnight. Wendy Joy Smith/Facebook

 

UPDATE: Nearly all Pratten residents hit by Wednesday night's storm are believed to have stayed in their own homes last night, with temporary repairs in place.

Chris and Melissa Short, who had their nearly completed home torn apart, remain living in a shed next to the house, which survived the storm almost unscathed.

Volunteers are assisting in clean up around the town, while some residents are hoping to organise a fundraiser in the coming days to help the Shorts.

Pratten is unlikely to be declared a disaster zone, due to the small size of the affected area.  

Damage on Chris and Melissa Short's Pratten property.
Damage on Chris and Melissa Short's Pratten property. Kerri Burns-Taylor

UPDATE: Pratten resident Chris Short is in disbelief after his nearly complete home was ripped apart by a fierce storm.

The storm, believed to be a super cell, cut a narrow trail of destruction through Pratten, ripping off roofs, snapping thick trees and bringing down power lines.

Mr Short rode out the storm with his family in a shed next to the uninsured house.

"It was only 100m wide - why did that 100m have to come through my house?" Mr Short said.

"The noise, I've never heard anything like it.

"It sounded like a bloody jet coming through.

"It's just devastating. We're owner-builders, this was our last chance to get out of the rental market.

"We just cannot start again."

SES local controller John Newley said 24 SES personnel were working on damaged homes on Wednesday night.

"I've been to north Queensland on deployment, and this was very reminiscent of a cyclone," he said.

Ergon Energy reports that the high voltage network in Pratten has just been re-energised, although the service lines to a number of premises have been disconnected pending repairs to sections of the low-voltage network.  

EARLIER 11.20AM: Pratten near Warwick is in clean-up mode today after a tornado snapped trees in half, brought down powerlines and damaged homes last night.

Southern Downs Regional Council director of engineering Peter See said powerlines and trees were brought down across an extensive area.

Five houses have been badly damaged in Pratten and one in Bony Mountain. A new house nearing completion was completely destroyed at Pratten.

More than 1522 lightning strokes were recorded across the Southern Downs last night.

Council crews, SES volunteers and emergency service teams worked through the night to clear debris, tarp roofs and conduct welfare checks of those affected by the storms.

Crews remain on site as they continue to assess the damage and assist residents in the cleanup efforts.

Ergon Energy has advised that there are still about 103 customers without power across the Southern Downs, mainly in the Pratten area. 

Crews are working to restore power to these properties as soon as possible.

"Residents who require assistance with storm damage are encouraged to phone the SES for assistance on 132 500," Mr See said.

Last night's storm rolls over cotton fields at Brookstead, near Millmerran.
Last night's storm rolls over cotton fields at Brookstead, near Millmerran. Grant Rolph Photography

EARLIER 7AM: A mini tornado has caused extensive damage to a number of homes in the Bony Mountain region, about 30km north-west of Warwick.

Multiple crews from the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service, Rural Fire Service, Queensland Ambulance Service and State Emergency Service were called to properties in the Pratten and Bony Mountain area overnight, following a significant storm about 9pm.

>> Do you have any photos from last night's storms? Share them with us here

A number of properties sustained significant damage and about six properties have lost roofs.

A commercial building and silo have also been destroyed.

A recreational centre at Bony Mountain was extensively damaged, while powerlines were ripped down, cutting electricity across the region. It may take up to 24hrs to restore power to some homes in the area.

SES volunteers tarped damaged roofs while firefighters visited and assessed properties in the area, with most crews completing their tasks by about 2am.

A lightning strike over Warwick.
A lightning strike over Warwick. Chris McFerran/Higgins Storm Chasing

Initial reports indicate only minor injuries from the event, with the QAS treating one man for a cut to his leg but he was not transported to hospital.

Police and emergency services crews remain at the scene this morning.

Warwick and surrounding communities were hit by an intense electrical storm, with reports of several direct lightning hits and hail last night.

Topics:  editors picks, storms, twister, warwick


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