A mini tornado has injured 15 people and caused serious damage in another day of wild weather on Australia’s east coast.
The mini tornado in Sydney’s north was reported to last just 20 seconds, tearing the roof of an empty cinema and blowing over a demountable building at the local train station.
A movie had just finished at the Westfield Hornsby cinema when the tornado hit. Patrons in other parts of the shopping centre were hit by shattered glass.
Local SES crews have worked through the night to make temporary repairs to the damage to the shopping centre roof and make it safe for contractors to assess the damage and repair it as soon as possible.
Superintendant Graham Jarrett from Fire and Rescue says the seats and floor of the cinema are covered in glass and debris.
“I think there would have been significant casualties had there people inside that area at the time,” he said.
Angela lives near the Westfield shopping centre and saw part of the cinema’s roof being torn off.
“Debris sort of going up in a spiral into the sky so it looked like a mini tornado,” she said.
— Natalia Cooper (@Natalia_Cooper9) November 18, 2013
Heather was inside the shopping centre at the time.
“There was this noise like a roar almost and we sort of all stood still,” she said.
The freak weather event was dubbed the #Hornsado on social media.
— 702 ABC Sydney (@702sydney) November 18, 2013
In other parts of NSW fall out from storms, floods and gale force winds continued.
The Dorrigo Plateau was covered in a blanket of white after a severe hailstorm yesterday afternoon.
The State Emergency Service says crews were called to fix roof damage at homes, business, schools and the district hospital.
Local SES controller Judith Ellam said the rural residential nature of the area means not a large number of homes damaged.
But MS Ellam said she grew up in Dorrigo and has never seen anything like yesterday’s hail.
“That was the whitest I’ve ever seen it and a lot of the residents said they’d never seen quite that,” she said.
“When we drove up there to help out yesterday afternoon it was like driving into a town covered in snow.
“Because it was just white everywhere.
“The hail on the roads made the roads slippery and there were cars slipping, an enormous amount of hail.”
In Carrington, residents said they could have been forced to move if nothing was done to fix a constant flooding problem.
Carrington local Tom Pattison spent most of yesterday sweeping water away from his house after waking up to flooding.
“You can feel the dampness in the tiles, so hopefully it hasn’t gone under it,” he said.
His partner Jody says it happens at least three times a year but any work council has done to try to address the problem has never worked in the long-term.
She says it is becoming unbearable and they might need to move.
Another local Melissa says when there is heavy rain she gets trapped.
“It’s really frustrating,” she said.
“Especially when you’ve got to go to work and stuff and you can’t get out of the street,” she said.
Residents say it is a matter of urgency the problem is fixed for good.
Newcastle Council says it is working to improve storm water flow in the area and work is scheduled for next financial year.
It says Carrington is a low-lying suburb, affected when there is consistent heavy rain over several days coupled with a high tide, as was the case yesterday.
Fruit and vegetable growers on the Coffs Coast are still assessing the costs from last weekend’s violent hailstorm, and many say they’ve lost everything.
A number of banana, stonefruit and blueberry crops suffered enormous damage, and farmers are now sorting out what can be saved.
Coffs Coast lettuce grower Dave Saunders said this year’s crop has been entirely destroyed – and he’s not sure it’s worth replanting.
“I’ll just have to reassess what my goals are and I’ll have a look,” he said.
“It’s certainly going to take a lot of time and money to get it back up to an operating farm again.
“It’s probably more time than money.”
– With AAP and ABC