STAFF at a Coolangatta hostel opened an unofficial evacuation centre in a downstairs bar after part of the roof was ripped away in Sunday's wild weather.
The gale-force winds that ex-cyclone Oswald whipped up on Sunday tore away part of the roof at the Coolangatta Sands Hotel.
Hostel manager Grant Bachelor said they lost part of the roof on Sunday night and another section the following morning.
"We lost a portion of the balcony on McLean St about 10pm," Mr Bachelor said.
"At 1am (Monday) the rooms started taking on water. So we needed to start moving people."
When water was getting into the rooms, the hostel staff called to evacuate the hostel guests to the public bar downstairs.
"We had backpackers camped out in the public bar after it closed," he said.
Mr Bachelor said some of the backpackers were pretty anxious.
"A lot of Europeans have never seen anything like we had on the weekend," he said.
"There were three couples on the street looking for accommodation. We took them in and also provided them with a meal."
Mr Bachelor spent two nights with the guests in the evacuation area.
"The backpackers we had on the weekend were a pretty good bunch of people," he said.
"It was like a slumber party."
The hostel has power returned and about 12 rooms were in use while eight along the edge of the balcony were unusable.