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First pictures of Burnett Heads devastation

SUDDEN DEVASTATION: This home had its roof torn off when a tornado slammed onto the coast at Burnett Heads. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
SUDDEN DEVASTATION: This home had its roof torn off when a tornado slammed onto the coast at Burnett Heads. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

PHOTOGRAPHER Max Fleet has described the devastating scenes along the Burnett Heads seafront as he headed out there to cover the damage for the NewsMail.

Mr Fleet said the seaside community had been littered with debris and some homes were missing their roofs by the time he reached the area after the first tornado hit.

After having taken the back roads to get there, he arrived on Sea Esplanade just in time for the second destructive winds to hit.

"I had to stop at one stage along the Esplanade because the rain was so hard," Mr Fleet said.

"The car was shaking and the rain was going sideways. I've never seen rain like it.

"It was like a white-out. Just a total squall."

SUDDEN DEVESTATION: Homes lose their roofs in Burnett Heads as the entire community is rocked by tornados that tear through the region indiscriminately. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
SUDDEN DEVESTATION: Homes lose their roofs in Burnett Heads as the entire community is rocked by tornados that tear through the region indiscriminately. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

Shortly afterwards, Mr Fleet approached a policeman on duty to block off the Esplanade when the second, smaller tornado swept in across homes on the seafront.

"There were powerlines down, debris everywhere, and the house right next to us didn't have a roof," he said.

"The wind was so strong that the foam that was being created by the waves crashing on the shore was being blown up over our heads, which was at least 30m away. 

"The powerlines were like toothpicks in this area - just blown all over the place. Not along all the Esplanade, just in this relatively small area. And there was tin and roofing iron blown all about the place too."

SUDDEN DEVESTATION: Homes lose their roofs in Burnett Heads as the entire community is rocked by tornados that tear through the region indiscriminately. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
SUDDEN DEVESTATION: Homes lose their roofs in Burnett Heads as the entire community is rocked by tornados that tear through the region indiscriminately. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

Mr Fleet spoke to Scott Rowleson, whose father Danny is the Bundaberg regional councillor for the division taking in Burnett Heads, and who lives in a house behind one that lost its roof.

Mr Rowleson told him on video that he watched his neighbour's roof being swept off by the first tornado.

"He said it was the most horrific thing he'd ever seen," Mr Fleet said.

"His neighbour was in bed when it happened and his neighbour told him he just watched the roof peel off above him."

Topics:  burnett heads, disaster, editors picks, tornado




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