Like a freight train’ Kalbarri residents forced to hide under sink as Cyclone Seroja hit
Thousands of families and businesses affected by ex-tropical Cyclone Seroja are still without power as authorities scramble to help the worst hit areas.
Residents and businesses in Kalbarri, a small tourist town seven hours north of Perth, are continuing to clean up from the devastating effects of Seroja after it made landfall on Sunday night.
The powerful system, which brought with it 170km/h winds and more than 167mm of rain, left more than 30,500 residents and businesses without power.
Close to 40 per cent of Kalbarri has been damaged with authorities still trying to calculate the cost of damages Seroja inflicted on the beachside town.
Local businesses have lost money from the impact to their shops as well as the repair bill.
“It’s just a complete mess. I think you’ve seen it yourself, it just looks like a bomb’s gone off. Whole place is wrecked,” local IGA store owner Wayne Forrest told 9News
Black Cafe owner Kevin Dawson said he was unsure his business would recover from the damage.
“Three hundred chairs, 120 tables, a wall, the roof, the windows. Total devastation, total destruction, something I don’t think we’ll recover from, I don’t think we’ll be able to open again,” Mr Dawson told 9News.
Kalbarri resident Kat Deadman was emotional as she spoke with 9News about the damage caused to her Kalbarri Boat Hire business.
Her office – a five tonne demountable – was hurled onto its side by the strength of the storm.
“Just lifted up, and that was actually over here. So just it’s gone up and flipped and spun, and over the tree,” Ms Deadman said.
Phone lines have been reinstated and families in the area are now able to contact loved ones after days of uncertainty.
Rebecca Bond told Today she and her two kids were forced to hide under the sink as the cyclone made landfall.
“We hid in the bathroom. It actually sounded like a freight train had come through the house. The walls were shaking,” Ms Bond said.
“We have got about 40 per cent damage. No roof as you can see in here, in my daughter’s room.
“The entertainment area and also the garage is gone as well. Very scary.”
It is feared the cleanup could take months with WA Premier Mark McGowan saying he is “heartbroken” as he toured affected regions, assuring swift assistance for those impacted.
WA’s Lord Mayor’s Distress Relief Fund has already raised more than $2.5 million since it was launched this morning and that includes money from the State Government and the board that controls the fund.
Locals will be waiting to see the outcome of a meeting with the Prime Minister tomorrow and the Federal Government is likely to deliver the millions of dollars needed not just for short term relief but to rebuild the entire town.
An evacuation point is still operating out of Geraldton with those in need urged to come forward for help.
Some huddled in bathtubs while others hid in pantries or toilets.
Miraculously, nobody was injured.
Mr McGowan said the biggest threat had now passed, and attention had started to shift to recovery efforts, which will be bolstered by the Australian Defence Force
“Emergency crews have been working through the day to assess damage and restore power, it is too early to provide a complete picture of the total damage,” Mr McGowan said.
“Western Australians are thinking of those people affected, we are all with you, ready to help in any way we can, the next few days however will be very tough and difficult.”