Department of Communities staff have mobilised to the Mid West to provide emergency welfare support to residents following ex tropical cyclone Seroja’s path of destruction on Sunday evening. Seroja made landfall south of Kalbarri about 8pm on Sunday as a category three storm with wind gusts up to 170km/h.
Over 28,000 homes are without power in Geraldton, Port Denison, Kalbarri and surrounds. Over a thousand Kalbarri residents have had damage to their homes, with a quarter being uninhabitable.
Power restoration is expected to take days, and could be weeks depending on circumstances. Telstra has confirmed widespread outages to its mobile network, creating challenges for the welfare response.
An Emergency Evacuation Welfare Centre at the QEII Seniors and Community Centre in Geraldton was set up on Monday evening with a capacity for 200 beds. Approximately 40 people are sleeping there overnight with others surging in and out for meals.
Local Labor MP, the Honourable Lara Dalton, attended the Welfare Centre on Monday speaking with the centre residents and offering assistance. Superintendent Roger Beer and DFES Incident Controller Willi Blackshaw also visited and answered questions from the evacuation centre residents, following a briefing with Department of Communities Evacuation Centre Welfare Coordinator Simon Hann. The residents welcomed this informal response and used the time to pose various questions to all stakeholders relating to their specific situations due to the cyclone.
Night shift staff from Communities were there to provide the 24/7 support for those attending the centre, providing a warm and safe place to have refreshments and access resources and support options. Our staff continue to assist residents to ensure they are catered for and provided with sleeping equipment, toiletries, and food and beverages.
Emergency Evacuation Welfare Centre Team Leader Simon Hann says the support and enthusiasm by those helping has been excellent. “All in all, a great first couple of nights with help from everyone involved. The evac centre ran smoothly with everyone pitching in to help the vulnerable cohorts, especially the elderly and people with disability. Communities’ Emergency Welfare Officers have been on hand to deal with anything and everything,” he said.
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) transported approximately 30 DFES personnel and vehicles from Pearce and Perth to Geraldton using the Australian Air Force Hercules tactical air-lifter.
Approximately 50 personnel from Perth, as well as Carnarvon and Karratha, also arrived in Geraldton yesterday to provide additional support, with a headquarters based at the Army Reserve depot in Geraldton.
The ADF is preparing to provide support with the clearing of roads and property, tree felling / chain sawing, supply distribution and general duties as directed by DFES.
WA Premier Mark McGowan visited Kalbarri yesterday to inspect the damage inflicted. The Premier thanked those assisting with response efforts. “I'd like to thank all of the emergency services personnel - all of the police, Western Power, Water Corporation, Communities, all the volunteers, SES and others, for all of their work over this period of time. The clean-up here is going to be a massive exercise a massive effort and I'm sure it will take a considerable period of time,” he said.
Australian Red Cross have established online registrations and repatriation for evacuees.
If you or someone you know has been affected by this event, please call our Disaster Response Hotline for assistance on 1800 032 965. For SES assistance call 132 500.
Visit the DFES EmergencyWA website for the latest information.