DEVASTATION: Tracey Gourlay assesses the damage at her McIntosh Creek Rd lettuce farm.
DEVASTATION: Tracey Gourlay assesses the damage at her McIntosh Creek Rd lettuce farm. Troy Jegers

LIKE A SNOWSTORM: Gympie lettuce farm battered by Hailnado

Enormous hail at Gympie : Hail the size of golf balls struck the Gympie region
Enormous hail at Gympie : Hail the size of golf balls struck the Gympie region

McINTOSH Creek lettuce growers Tracey and Dave Gourlay felt the full effects of the tornado-like thunderstorm that struck the Gympie region with fearsome ferocity on Thursday afternoon.

They could only watch as heavy rain, destructive winds and a sea of large hail bashed their house and their extensive growing stations, leaving them with nothing else to do but try to pick up the pieces.

By yesterday morning the hail remained in clusters, along with the nets it ruined and crops it damaged.

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"Dave's a farmer, he's been a farmer for years and years and he's never seen a storm like that,” Mrs Gourlay said.

"He does this permanent netting through his business, any structure he had ever seen would never hold that hail.

Destructive storm, large hail pelts Gympie: Huge thunderstorms wreaked destruction in Gympie on Thursday afternoon.
Destructive storm, large hail pelts Gympie: Huge thunderstorms wreaked destruction in Gympie on Thursday afternoon.

"You couldn't see outside the window it was like a full on snowstorm, everything out here was like a winter wonderland, it was that bad.

"Our whole laundry is gone, it got flooded out, a lot of houses along here are like that as well. There's a ton of hail sitting on our roof, just sitting there.

"I don't even know how to describe it, I went to the laundry and went 'Oh my god, where's the roof gone?'. It was just pouring in all over the floor.”

Now left with a substantial recovery effort ahead of them, Mrs Gourlay said she and Dave would adopt the "farmer's attitude” and "just carry on”.

"We've lost about $34,000 in income off the lettuce that's growing, but every week I plant 5000 seeds, that's how much we sell to get the amount of lettuce we need.

"Some of those seedlings are destroyed so that will carry on, and the tables I don't even know, I can't work out how much we've lost there.

"It's buggered, they're all smashed.

"I don't know how we're going to come back from this, it's going to cost a fortune, but we're okay, I'm sure there are people who have lost more.”