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Tornado tears off roofs as families cower

TORN APART: Shiralee Winslade inspects the damage to a shed in Lower Mt Walker after storms on Saturday night.
TORN APART: Shiralee Winslade inspects the damage to a shed in Lower Mt Walker after storms on Saturday night. Rob Williams

A DESTRUCTIVE funnel of wind roaring at 100kmh has torn through Ipswich, leaving a terrible trail of devastation in its wake.

A house on Rosewood-Warrill View Rd was lifted from its stumps on Saturday; 10 roofs in the area were peeled off; a 10m shipping container was blown over and pushed 5m, trees were smashed, a horse float was propelled more than 500m and 15 guinea pigs were tossed 20m into the air and blown away.

In Pine Mountain about 20km away, another storm cell wrecked a house.

As lightning lit up the sky, and speared into the ground frightened families across the city huddled in fear inside their homes.

Lower Mt Walker residents Boyd Smith and Emma Clements and their two young children, aged seven and one, were left homeless after the storms destroyed their house shortly after 8pm as they watched TV.

"We sat between the lounge and a coffee table huddled together with blankets and cushions on top of us until the storm passed," Ms Clements said.

"You could feel the house lift up off the stumps and come back down, then the roof ripped off."

An SES spokesman said the three-bedroom fibro home would need to be demolished after the storm fractured structural beams and caused the asbestos walls and floors to collapse.

"We couldn't go anywhere because we didn't know if the power lines, which were down outside the house, were live or not," Ms Clements said.

"We had to wait for the SES to get to us.

"It took them hours because there were trees and powerlines across the road."

A large horse stable complex in the property across from the house was reduced to rubble, while another house 200m away was untouched.

Trees were uprooted, iron sheeting flung into trees or hundreds of metres away against fences, and two silos crumpled when they were ripped from their concrete footings. A contract had reportedly been signed on the property just weeks ago.

"Everything is gone," Ms Clements said. "I'm glad we're all okay but we're just going to have to start from scratch again We weren't insured."

Cr David Pahlke said 10 homes had roofs missing, while another 20 suffered damage, including leaking roofs and tree branches across buildings.

"There was definitely some sort of tornado or funnel, which cut a 1km path through the south of Rosewood," Cr Pahlke said.

"Wind gusts of 92km were recorded at Amberley but it would have had to be much more than that out here.

"It's amazing how lucky or unlucky you were in a matter of metres.

"If a storm like this cut through the centre of Ipswich hundreds of homes would have been destroyed."

Ipswich SES area controller Arie van den Ende said the organisation received 28 calls for assistance on Saturday, mainly for trees on houses.

Sign writer Bob Stephenson who lives on the corner of Rosewood-Warrill View and Hallam Rds, said he'd never seen a storm like it.

"It was horrific," he said. "I was in the shed at the time. When I came out the trees were blowing and half the roof was ripped off.

"It came straight through from the west. Next door lost their roof and the next two along lost their roofs as well."

Lightning looking from Collingwod park towards Ipswich. Photo: Robert Thomas
Lightning looking from Collingwod park towards Ipswich. Photo: Robert Thomas

Another couple on Hallam Rd came home to find an iron bark tree through the front of their two-storey weatherboard home.

Nicole McPhee was thankful her parents-in-law were not home.

"It's peeled the iron off the roof, broken all the beams in the roof, downstairs is flooded, all the windows are broken and the shed demolished," she said.

"Where the damage is to the front of the house, had the tree gone half a metre further it would have gone through their bedroom where they would have been asleep. The people on the hill didn't get anything. It's mind-blowing."

Stacey Mathewson's pet guinea pigs were thrown into the air with their cage on Reillys Rd at Rosewood.

Ms Mathewson said they found only one animal at first but on Saturday morning another 12 of the 15 were discovered alive.

"We found one down the paddock under a piece of tin about 20m away," she said.

However wind gusts wrecked the family's aviaries, with more than $1000 worth of parrots lost and more than 50 racing pigeons gone.

She said a tree fell on her three-year-old son's bedroom window, showering him in glass while he slept.

Thunderstorms threatened again last night, but the Bureau of Meteorology predicted fine weather this week with the chance of a storm on Friday.

Mayor Paul Pisasale said residents in the Rosewood area could dispose of storm green waste for free at the Rosewood tip.

Topics:  editors picks, ipswich, rosewood, storm, tornado, weather



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