STORM DAMAGE: Dennis Coolwell and his daughter Havana, 3, are glad they are safe after a harrowing night at Dicky Beach Caravan Park.
STORM DAMAGE: Dennis Coolwell and his daughter Havana, 3, are glad they are safe after a harrowing night at Dicky Beach Caravan Park. Warren Lynam

Freak storm separates parents from terrified kids

A DICKY Beach caravan park visitor has described the terrifying minutes he was separated from his screaming children as the worst of the freak weather ripped through.

Brisbane's Dennis Coolwell had taken his family up to Dicky Beach for the day to visit other family staying in the caravan park.

"We only went up for a swim and a birthday, as we were leaving, it hit," Mr Coolwell said.

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He first tried to help hold down the gazebo on his father-in-law's caravan as the wind started to pick up.

But then "it got too bad, so we had to let it go".

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He and his partner ran with their three-year-old child to the toilet block for safety.

"We couldn't get in, they run it with buttons and the electricity was gone."

 

Storm damage at the Dicky Beach Caravan Park
Storm damage at the Dicky Beach Caravan Park Warren Lynam

Instead they ran to the laundry.

Minutes later the roof of the toilet they had been trying to enter was ripped off in the heavy winds.

"We were lucky (we were in the laundry) as the roof of the toilet went off," he said.

Mr Coolwell's other children, aged eight, 12 and 15, were in the games room, separated from their parents.

"I've got images you don't want, I can see them crying, screaming. It was full on," he said.

"We were in the laundry and this big gush, a second, came through and we couldn't see anything.

"I haven't heard anything like it. It was like standing next to a jet plane as it took off."


Mr Coolwell was worried about his children's safety as the games room was surrounded by glass windows.

"When the wind came, we couldn't see them. We were separated for a few minutes.

"I was just thinking ,if something flew through and smashed the glass...

"I couldn't see them, I couldn't hear them, nothing. All we could hear was the storm.

"I've never heard anything like it."

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Then, a few minutes later, the storm disappeared as quickly as it came.

"We could see the kids and they were fine, no glass had broken," he said.

"We all hugged each other."

He estimated the entire event didn't last much longer than 10 to 15 minutes.

"After, it was all sunny as if nothing happened. I have never been, ever, in anything like it."

The Coolwell's stayed at Dicky Beach until late in the night helping with the clean up.


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