MACLEAN COPS IT
By JURIS GRANEY
MERV Hail watched in disbelief as a roof hurtled towards his home.
The roof bounced off houses in front of his own shearing off a power pole before coming to rest against the front of his property -- destroying only his letter box.
It had come from more than 100 metres away from the newly-installed canteen located on Wherrett Park.
Another section of the roof was wrapped around a large tree and resting on the boundary fence of Barry Watts Oval, 100 metres in the opposite direction.
"Thank God no one was hurt," Mr Hail said less than 10 minutes after the storm hit Maclean.
"I can't believe how quick it hit.
"I have never seen anything like it."
Mr Hail escaped relatively unscathed with properties in Wharf Street copping the brunt of storm that generated winds of more than 100km/h.
One property in the street was all-but cut in two by a large tree.
Downed powerlines caused traffic chaos along many of the streets but Cameron Street, which leads onto the Pacific Highway quickly became clogged with residents trying to return to their homes to inspect what damage might have occured.
The cutting leading off Cameron Street towards Brooms Head funnelled the wind down the street destroying everything in its path.
A line of traffic stretched from the Brooms Head turnoff onto the Pacific Highway and past the Maclean Showground with many of the drivers sitting in their cars shaking their heads in disbelief.
Downed trees blocked many streets and with the persistent rain, adding to the pandemonium.
Live powerlines criss-crossed many of the streets making navigating the roads near impossible.
During the peak of the storm River Street lived up to its name with water cascading down the main thoroughfare literally stopping traffic in its tracks.
Most people spoken to directly after the storm could not believe its ferocity, which many labelled a 'cyclone'.
Owner of the Ferry Park Restaurant Kylie Firth said her and two other staff members huddled in the kitchen as the storm hit.
"We heard something fly off the roof," she said.
"It wasn't until afterwards that we realised it was the roof.
"We had just finished serving a couple of takeaway customers when it hit.
"We just thought, what do you do when a cyclone hits?
"We just went into the kitchen.
"Lucky there was no-one in here at the time."
After the cyclonic winds passed Kylie and the others inspected the restaurant to find water teeming along the walls inside the structure.
The roof was more than 200 metres away across James Creek Road in a cane paddock.
Other streets were unrecognisable with many people counting their blessings.
Local real estate agent Ken Bolton arrived at his Wharf Street home to find a large tree resting against the back of his house.
Another tree narrowly missed the front of his house coming to rest on the road.
All he and his family could do was shake their heads in disbelief.
A quick scan across the rooftops of town showed the destruction with many roofs lifted off and deposited in neighbour's yards.
Driving around the town, many people were wandering the streets inspecting their and their neighbours' properties.
"What the hell was that?" one stunned onlooker said.
"What just happened?"
Others described their fear during the storm.
"When it hit I was scared, I was genuinely scared," a woman said.
"I didn't know what to do."