A Queensland mum is battered and bruised after using her body to shield her baby from a ferocious hailstorm that’s caused vast amounts of damage in the state’s south.
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 her car copped the full fury of a super-cell storm – one of three that lashed the state along with two tornadoes.
When a back window was shattered, she 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.
“She could have been seriously hurt or killed, anything could have happened,” the 23-year-old said of her daughter.
“It wasn’t until I got to the hospital and they took my clothes off that I realised how bad my back, shoulder and neck was … I just can’t believe hail could have done that.”
Ms Simpson’s daughter suffered bumps to her head, and her grandmother spent the night in hospital after the hailstones “shredded” her skin.
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.
At Blackwater, in central Queensland, winds gusted to 144km/h, a wind speed associated with a Category 2 cyclone.
Queensland Dairy Farmers president Brian Tessmann said the storm’s fury at his Coolabunia farm was like nothing he’d ever seen, with winds tearing the roofs from his home and dairy.
“The roof came off and it was bedlam from there, trying to hold doors shut, and water coming through the ceiling, and things flying through the air. It was quite something,” he told the ABC.
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State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklinton 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.”
Teresa Francis has put losses at her Kumbia orchard put at $2 million. Hail stones in some places were as large as tennis balls.
SES crews are 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.