The ground shook as a storm, described as a mini tornado, lifted roofs off buildings and left a trail of destruction in the south-west Victorian town of Ararat.
A local hardware store sustained the most damage in the Tuesday evening storm, with stock being picked up by the winds and dropped throughout the nearby area.
A brick building, used by community groups for storage, was flattened with the equipment inside it destroyed, while parts of house roofs were damaged in the mini tornado, Ararat Rural City mayor Ian Wilson said.
The storm also brought fences down, uprooted trees and brought down powerlines, but damage was confined to a small part of the town, Cr Wilson said.
The mayor's parents were among locals caught up in the storm.
"My father was quite shocked by the severity of the incident, he said it was one of the loudest noises he has ever heard in his life and the whole ground shook," Cr Wilson told AAP.
"It was really quite a violent incident given that it only lasted for a number of seconds."
SES crews had 10 calls for help in the Ararat area for what they described as a "microburst".
"It was quite short and sharp and came and went very quickly, but left some damage," an SES spokesman said.
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Peter Blake said an intense burst of damaging wind during a thunderstorm likely caused the damage.
Power remains cut off to a number of properties in the area.