THE OWNERS of the Grafton Brewery industrial precinct believe they're facing a massive repair bill after Saturday's savage hail storm.
Owners Les and Jan McGill said hailstones measuring more than 90mm in diameter smashed into the building shortly after 1.30pm, smashing windows, stripping a special Crommelin protective covering off the roof and punching holes through steel coverings.
"We had a big hail event in 2008, which caused about $300,000 worth of damage and that was a drop in the bucket compared to this," Mr McGill said.
"After 2008 we had this Crommelin membrane put across the roof which was designed to protect against weather damage.
"In this storm the hail was coming in virtually sideways and seemed to be able to get in underneath and rip it up."
Mr McGill said of the 20,000 square metres of roof space covering the building on the site, about 7000sqm was badly damaged.
"It' actually too dangerous for people to get up on a lot of the roof," he said.
The McGills said their main concern immediately after the storm was the safety of the 48 tenants in the complex.
"Some of the businesses like the Jungle Gym and Hybrid Fitness were open and trading when it hit.
"The hail was flying in virtually sideways. All the cars and boats at Skinner Marine had hail damage of some sort."
Mrs McGill said the response of two local builders Rick Winters and Zac Walsh had been outstanding.
"I called our insurance broker and just said 'I need some help'," Mrs McGill said.
"Within two hours Rick and Zac were both here and doing what they could to secure the building.
"They couldn't do a lot because it was too wet, but on Sunday they were here at 9am to start work and they worked nearly non-stop for the next 48 hours."
Mr McGill said the builders had been able to patch the roof damage well enough to allow the businesses to open on Monday.
"That was our main concern, for all the tenants here," he said.
He said the front of the complex including the brewery tower bore most of the fury of the hail storm.
"Most of the south-facing windows of the tower were smashed, the hail was coming in nearly sideways," Mr McGill said.
"That was reinforced plate glass that was just smashed. The tower is like a demolition zone."
Mr McGill said their insurance company would send assessors some time this week to look at the damage.
"I'm frightened to guess what the size of the bill might be," he said.
"It could be the repairs turn out to be one of the biggest jobs in Grafton at the moment and there's some big work going on."