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The storm that battered Bundaberg

BRUTAL: The reinforced steel joists from the roof of the depot of Chaves' Enterprises wrapped themselves around the home of Hilda Charles on Maryborough St.
BRUTAL: The reinforced steel joists from the roof of the depot of Chaves' Enterprises wrapped themselves around the home of Hilda Charles on Maryborough St.

WHETHER it be a drought or a flood, the Bundaberg community is no stranger to extreme weather events.

Despite Tropical Cyclone Debbie's best efforts earlier this year, she had no effect in comparison to the "low” which flattened a fair share of Bundaberg in 1976.

Nearly 200 homes were damaged, while some were completely destroyed by 90knot winds which hit Bundaberg at 7am on February 22, 1976.

According to the February 23, 1976 edition of the NewsMail, two men died from heart attacks during the cyclonic weather and a five-year-old boy lost a finger when a door slammed shut on it.

"William Dellar, 69, of Branyan St died when the winds were at their fiercest, and Noel Ballantyne, 60, of One Mile Rd, who died while attempting to lay a weight on a piece f flapping roofing iron just after the cyclone had past,” the paper read.

What was left of Midtown Caravan Park
What was left of Midtown Caravan Park

Damage by the storm was estimated at more than one million dollars, with today's inflation that degree of destruction would be about $6,033,000 worth of expenses.

The Chaves' Enterprises fruit and vegetable depot was hit the hardest, with the roof torn off and twisted around the neighbouring house and only the front wall remained standing.

Other places such as the Brothers Leagues Club, Thiele's sawmill, the Blue Steel Industries shed on Lester St, the Federal Hotel, Mac's Motors and J. A. Gray's reported severe damage to the roof and walls, while the dome at the Alloway Observatory was blown off its foundations.

The chaotic weather even kept Bundaberg radio station 4BU off the air for about 2hours after the transmitting tower was blown over when the wind hit and shattered numerous glass display windows along Bourbong St.

The harrowing wind wasn't the only issue the community faces, excess rain followed closely behind - dumping four-and-a-half inches of rain on the city.

Ambulance bearers from Bundaberg QATB were called to the Bundaberg Nursing Centre to help shift patients to a drier part of the hospital after water began coming in under the tiles.

The Showgrounds had suffered extensive damage with half the grandstand, the main pavilion and the cattle sheds de-roofed and the Skyway Drive-in lost about a quarter of its panels, closing the drive-in for at least a week.

Col Schafferius and a toppled light at the showgrounds.
Col Schafferius and a toppled light at the showgrounds.

Bundaberg emergency services Insperctor R. A. Freeman thanked the people of Bundaberg for their cooperation when the storm hit on the Sunday and praised the work done by members of the State Emergency Services squad.

Have you got a slice of local history you'd like to share?

Email the team at editoral@news-mail.com.au.

Topics:  bundaberg cyclone hindsight local history rain wide bay



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