FIRST, the wind came, and then the storm took the absolute lot.

Karen Haw, owner of the Mirboo North Garden Centre and Garden Supplies, has “lost everything” in the storm that caused havoc in Mirboo North on Tuesday, February 13.

Driving home after the working day finished, Ms Haw had no idea of the damage she would return to the following day.

“It has damaged 95 per cent of our stock,” she emotionally told the Latrobe Valley Express.

The force of the storm that ripped through Mirboo North had pulled trees from the roots and lifted roofs, but it also laid waste to a once vibrant nursery.

“It has snapped plastic pots, it’s ripped labels off, it’s taken leaves, flowers, and it’s like a giant whipper snipper went through the place,” Ms Haw said.

The lively nursery stocked every plant you could have ever wanted and was a cornerstone in the Mirboo North business scene.

The picturesque nursery was a shadow of itself when Ms Haw returned to see all her nursery plants turned on their side, sustaining immense hail damage.

“We’ve got nothing now,” she said.

Aftermath: Karen Haw, owner of the Mirboo North Garden Centre and Garden Supplies, described the scene that greeted her at the nursery after the storm as like a whipper snipper had gone through the place. Photograph supplied

With no insurance, Ms Haw is uncertain of the nursery’s future.

The nursery sustained tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage, and with no stock, Ms Haw is left with no income.

“We’ve had no income since Tuesday night – small businesses have been suffering anyway since the financial downturn, but we have no income,” she said.

Beginning the clean-up, Ms Haw remained concerned about how she would start her inventory from scratch.

“When things go back to normal, we’ve got nothing to sell,” she said.

Even the nursery’s truck was flipped in the storm’s carnage, with debris scattered around the property.

Ms Haw is currently looking into support options from the nursery industry, but is still determining what kind of support she is eligible for.

Not only has this storm torn apart her livelihood, but it’s tested Ms Haw’s resolve following struggles with her home. The poor nursery owner’s home suffered significant fire damage following a blaze at her property.

“What do we do? How do we survive without any income? – We don’t know what we’re going to do,” she said.

The staff at the Mirboo North Garden Centre organised a working bee, giving up some time to help Ms Haw and co clean up the wreck. Ms Haw said she was in better spirits after the storm’s debris was whisked away.

Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, fronted state Parliament asking for more assistance for those like Ms Haw, struggling on multiple fronts since the storm.

The Personal Hardship Assistance Program through the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing remains a viable option for those still dealing with the storm’s aftermath.

Other businesses in the region have also struggled to lose income with days of no power.

Potential customers were discouraged from visiting Mirboo North as state government agencies, first responders and AusNet service crews needed to assess and repair the mess.

The Mirboo North Market was forced to cancel its February market set for February 24.

“There are a number of very good risk management reasons that outweigh the benefits of holding the market in a declared emergency response, so we will play our part and move on to our next scheduled event on March 30,” organisers said.

Resilient: One of the sole flowers to survive the storm. Photograph supplied

Though almost all of Ms Haw’s garden stock was ruined in the storm, one flower survived the carnage, perhaps as a symbol of Mirboo North’s resilience – indeed a diamond in the rough.