Ballarat continues clean-up after the storm

THE clean-up will continue this weekend following Thursday’s freak storm that lashed the Ballarat region.

At St Paul’s Anglican Church on Humffray Street, winds ripped a large metal cross and a sandstone block from the roof of the building.

Fr Des Benfield and his wife were inside an adjacent house when the cross was ripped from the church’s roof.

“We were in the house and we heard a large crash,” he said.

“It’s lucky nobody was underneath – they would have been killed.”

Meanwhile, a Ballarat East family will continue their clean-up this weekend, after the ‘mini tornado’ ripped their back yard to pieces and uprooted a 50-year-old pine tree. 

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Branches and debris were strewn across the Otway Street home’s backyard as the gusty wind tore a path of destruction.

Narelle Dopper, who was just eight when her family moved to the home, said the backyard had been dominated by shady trees as long as she could remember. Ms Dopper said it was strange seeing the 14 metre high pine tree she used to climb as a kid lying on its side.

“Lucky it wasn’t a weekend – my kids would have been up the back playing in their cubby house,” she said.

“There’s nothing left of the cubby now.”

Her father, Allan Dopper, said he couldn’t believe the force of the storm which tore one of his biggest trees from the ground.

“It was like a steam train coming straight through the house,” he said.

“The whole house shook.”

Mr Dopper said his property had never received such damage.

“We’ve had a bit of wind before, we had a tree come down because of the drought, but nothing like this,” he said.

“There’s about six with the tops ripped out of them and three that have come down completely.”

SES volunteers yesterday continued to clean up Ballarat. Ballarat SES duty officer Frank Gillett said about 50 volunteers responded to dozens of calls for help on Thursday night, as crews from Bacchus Marsh, Ararat and Hepburn arrived to help.

The storm hit the city around 3.30pm, with reported winds of up to 80km/h and heavy rain.

Widespread power outages and property damage were reported within minutes of the storm hitting the region. 

jordan.oliver@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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