A freak storm has cut a path of destruction across the Wheatbelt and left some towns and businesses counting the costs of extensive structural damage. Big trees were uprooted and roads covered in debris when the brief but destructive thunderstorm passed through the region last Friday night. Narrogin and surrounding areas were in the line of fire, with Williams and Cuballing seemingly the worst hit. Sheds were damaged, fences flattened and trampolines flung through the air. Williams resident Ruth Tinley said the storm brought an eruption of gusty winds and pouring rain. “The storm hit around 5.10pm. We were all outside because it looked as though rain might be on the way,” she said. “We first saw a dust cloud coming over the hill, then there was lightning and loud thunder and the wind picked up. The wind very rapidly got stronger and stronger and it started raining. “I got all the kids inside as it was beginning to look dangerous and the winds were almost cyclonic.” Ms Tinley is a worker on Rapanui farm, a 14,000ha multi-cropping and sheep farm north-east of the Shire of Williams. The Tinleys’ property on the farm sustained severe damage to a brick wall and shed, and they found their trampoline 1km away in a neighbour’s paddock. “The whole thing only lasted five minutes at its wildest point, although it kept raining for a while afterwards,” Ms Tinley said. “We ran out the back and saw that our whole shed had been ripped apart and blown away, with pieces strewn all up the hill.” The family spent the weekend cleaning up fallen branches and rubble from the wall, making a temporary fence for their dog and sorting through undamaged shed items. “We are just very grateful no one was injured,” Ms Tinley said. Noel Fowler of Rapanui said a machinery shed on the family farm was extensively damaged. In the back of the shed with his three-year-old son Lawson when the storm hit, he had to act quickly to get away from danger. “It came up from between the Dryandra Woodlands and our farm and as it came along you could tell it was starting to pick up speed,” Mr Fowler said. “We ducked around the back of the shed and as we got there, it just hit. “I looked to the back wall and it just opened up. That first impact ... it immediately took it apart.” “It was very windy, so I wasn’t too surprised but there was a certain amount of urgency to get out of harm’s way, and then a focus on minimising damage in other areas, checking the other houses on the farm were OK.” Mr Fowler said the clean-up would take a few weeks. “It’s impacted our business by giving us at least a good three weeks worth of extra work leading up to seeding, which is already a pretty tight time to get work done,” he said. “And two days worth of cleaning up tree debris ... it just takes people away from the work that needs to be done this time of year.” The historic restored Congelin Town Hall, across the road from Rapanui, was also left in a state of disrepair. Owner Ben Fowler said he would either restore it, knock it down or leave it as a reminder of the storm’s wrath. “It was probably last used 15 years ago for a function and then 50 years ago it was used as a polling booth,” he said. “The nail holes from pinned-up posters are still visible in the bricks.” Forty-five minutes north, the town of Cuballing was also hit hard by Friday’s wild weather. Parts of the townsite and surrounds have been left in a mess. with a big clean-up effort under way to remove tree debris from the roads. Shire of Cuballing chief executive Gary Sherry said the town hall lost part of its roof. “I’m unsure of the damage costs — it is insured but if I was to estimate, I’d say it will be up to $60,000,” he said. “I haven’t seen a storm like this in recent times for at least the past 20 years. “It was definitely at its worst in the townsite, and we copped most of the wind.” The Cuballing hall is used by many community groups such as the town’s line dancers, who have been forced to relocate. Despite the ferocious storm, the Cuballing Music Festival went ahead on Saturday night, with the mood only dampened by the wet grass.