Mother In Australia battered by hailstorm as tornado.
A Queensland woman has been heralded a hero after she was battered and bruised using her body to shield her baby from a ferocious hailstorm.
The super-storm cell that lashed south east Queensland with sideways rain and howling winds of over 140 kmh has left a trail of destruction, leaving farmers and residents to clean up the devastation.
Fiona Simpson’s back, shoulders and arms are a mess of angry welts and bruises after she was forced to throw herself on top of her four-month-old daughter when Thursday’s storm shattered her car windows.
She had pulled over on the side of a highway after leaving Nanango when a back window was shattered. She immediately leapt into the back seat and put her body between her baby and the large hailstones raining down on them.
“I could see she was screaming but I couldn’t even hear her, that’s how loud it was,” she has told the ABC.
Soon afterwards a front window went, and the mother desperately tried to also shield her elderly grandmother. The trio eventually drove to a nearby home and called the ambulance.
Local Tansy residents Ingrid and Brian Chadwick grabbed their dog and ran to the hallway as the vicious storm that hit the township yesterday afternoon blew in windows and caused extensive damage.
Despite only lasting mere minutes, Ms Chadwick said the ferocity of the weather made it feel more like half an hour.
“It just sounded like a locomotive coming towards you,” Ms Chadwick said.
Meanwhile, a young boy is in a critical condition after a large tree fell on him about 11am on Friday at a property near Coolabunya just outside of the town of Kingaroy, Queensland Ambulance said.
Two 4WDs were needed to lift the tree off the boy, with a rescue helicopter on scene just after midday preparing to fly him to hospital.
Queensland ambulance said the boy suffered “multiple serious injuries from head to toe” which left him in a critical condition.
“Thankfully, no loss of life”
The storm system was one of three that lashed the state along with two tornadoes. At Blackwater, in central Queensland, winds gusted to 144km/h, a wind speed associated with a Category 2 cyclone. Hailstones in some places were as large as tennis balls.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her thoughts were with the families who were caught up in the storm.
“This was a severe storm and we’re starting to get a full picture damage it has caused,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Thankfully, there was no loss of life.”
Talks are underway to determine if the hard hit South Burnett region should be declared a disaster zone, with entire crops lost at harvest time, and roofs off homes.
Avocado growers in the nearby town Kumbia have been dealt yet another devastating blow. Storms on Boxing Day last year wiped out established crops. Fledgling sprouts were damaged by frost last month, with the remaining plants now destroyed.
Colin Humphries, southern area manager of Costa Farms, said it will be another two to three years before another crop was ready to be harvested.
“Everyone is devastated,” he said.
State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said many farmers in her electorate of Nanango suffered enormous losses, having endured similarly devastating storms on Boxing Day last year.
“People will lose their jobs today because there is no fruit left to pick … Many homes will be unliveable.”
The Queensland State Emergency Service received 360 calls for assistance in the past 24 hours, with several thousands residents still without electricity.
SES director of state coordination Brian Cox said continued wet whether in the region will further complicate an already complex operation and asked people to be patient.
Crews have spent the day patching roofs in the region, as council workers clear roads of debris, and technicians get the power back on.
About 1000 insurance claims for storm damage have already been lodged.