Like most rural towns, Karoonda is no stranger to experiencing a natural disaster. But the weather phenomenon that ripped through the town on the evening of June 10, 2005, was definitely out of the ordinary.
A mini tornado suddenly hit the western end of the town when a thunderstorm propelled by gale force winds blew through. Affecting only a 400m-wide front, wind speeds within the tornado reached 200km/h and within just two minutes it had damaged 18 buildings before blowing out into farmland.
The hospital was the first building hit. Sections of the tile roof were torn of, gutters ripped off and trees uprooted. The ambulance station and fire station, directly opposite, were hit next. The rear portion of the ambulance station roof was torn off. The fire station lost part of its roof, one side wall and a roller door. While the interiors of both buildings were damaged, thankfully the emergency service vehicles were unscathed.
The oval clubrooms suffered serious damage, losing its veranda and roof, which were blown onto railway tracks, nearby roads and houses. Light towers were bent to the ground and goal posts were ripped out by the force of the wind.
Houses along Old Adelaide Road, Sherlock Drive and KR Wilson Drive were badly damaged, with many losing their roofs – but luckily their occupants escaped unscathed.
Trees and powerlines were torn down by the aggressive front, cutting power and access to the town.
Miraculously no-one was hurt, though four people were treated at the hospital for shock.
A volunteer army of local emergency services, residents and farmers banded together to clean up the town and offer emergency housing and assistance to those whose homes were too badly damaged.
Repairs to community buildings and facilities and private homes took months.