Tornado damage sinks couple’s hopes for flood-hit business

FLOODS, fires and now a mini-tornado, the Lake Awoonga community has felt the worst of 2013.

And none more so than local business owners Michelle and Ross Pearce, from Lake Awoonga Boat Hire, who will be welcoming a new year and new start with open arms.

For the second time in less than 12 months, Barra Queen and Barra 1 were lifted by crane out of the water on Thursday morning, with both vessels requiring extensive repairs.

Ross Pearce said the latest blow was almost enough to undermine the couple's passion for boating.

"It's absolutely heart wrenching," he said.

"It's really hard to cope. We are literally going broke after being without business since January."

'Barra 1
'Barra 1" being hoisted out of Lake Awoonga Photo Contributed Contributed

Surveying the damage caused by the mini-tornado, the robust winds have dislodged door frames from their hinges, shattered glass windows and peeled metal panelling like banana skins.

John Murray, who was in his caravan at the time of the storm, said that he had never witnessed such ferocity during his 10 years as a resident.

"Lightning was striking non-stop," he said.

"I looked out of the caravan and branches were flying around," he said.

"The wind was just howling, and I mean really howling. I would estimate as strong as 80-100 kph. Tents and awnings couldn't stand up to the conditions."

Although damage sustained by the two vessels cannot yet be determined, Mrs Pearce said it's enough to put Lake Awoonga Boat Hire in jeopardy.

"I'm really scared for our future," she said.

"I do want to say a big thank you to our saviours rushing to assist us when they heard our boats had taken on water."

The past year has delivered more turmoil than the community has seen in a decade. Locals are still without electricity.

"We have a hard road of uncertainty ahead of us," Mr Pearce said.

Barra Queen and Barra 1 were lifted out of Awoonga Dam after suffering extensive damage following a severe storm last week photo: Gerard Mc Dermott Photo Contributed
Barra Queen and Barra 1 were lifted out of Awoonga Dam after suffering extensive damage following a severe storm last week photo: Gerard Mc Dermott Photo Contributed Contributed

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