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Major clean-up for Wollondilly after supercell sweeps over region

Monday October 25, 2021 - 04:58 AEDT
ABC image
The roof of Matt Hale's mechanic workshop folded back on itself in the gale force winds. - ABC

The New South Wales government is being urged to issue a natural disaster declaration for parts of the Wollondilly Shire, south-west of Sydney, after a storm trashed the region over the weekend.

The State Emergency Service said the supercell only lasted about 15 minutes on Saturday afternoon but brought with it large hailstones and winds gusting up to 120 kilometres per hour.

Matthew Hale has operated as a mechanic in Thirlmere for 13 years. He received a call from a friend during the storm telling him his workshop had been damaged.

"We couldn't actually get there because of the all the trees down ... we ended up helping the emergency services cutting up trees on the road to get access," he said.

When Mr Hale and his wife arrived at the workshop, they found it extensively damaged.

"It came from the south, grabbed the front edge of the building and peeled 50 per cent of the roof off and folded it back onto the back half of the building."

"When it has done that, it has torn the front structure out; [concrete building] blocks have then fallen inside onto equipment, on cars and [it has] broken windows."

The storm also caused extensive water damage.

Friends and customers rallied around the couple on Sunday to help put a tarp on the roof and lend a hand.

"Life in general, it was just starting to get back to normal after COVID-19. But it is hard to get tradies; they have already said it will take a bit of time."

Wollondilly Mayor Robert Khan said the damage was incredible.

"It was devastating; it was like a war zone," he said.

"A lot of homes and cars were damaged, trees uprooted ? across roads, council assets like the Wollondilly leisure centre, the Thirlmere sports ground were all damaged.

"The clean-up will go for days."

Mr Khan said the council was providing assistance.

"We are opening a mayoral relief fund of up to $1,000, and green waste clean-up and waiving the tip fee for green waste."

He said he was also pushing for disaster fund support from the state government.

Wollondilly MP Nathaniel Smith said during the past two years the shire has been impacted by bushfires, floods and the pandemic and now the hailstorm had heaped additional trauma.

"The youth in our area have really copped it in the last couple of years; they have gone through the wars here in the Wollondilly," he said.

Call for natural disaster declaration

Mr Smith said he spoke to the Premier and Emergency Services Minister on Saturday, calling on them to declare  a natural disaster in the area.

"So additional services and funding can be called in to help public infrastructure get back into place as fast as possible.

"They have had a declaration up in Coffs Harbour in the last week and I am calling for the same appropriate funding to be provided for the Wollondilly; mainly Thirlmere, Picton and Tahmoor."

"It was almost like a scene out of Games of Thrones in the north: 'behind the wall, the white walkers descended on Thirlmere...'

"It was 120-plus kilometre per hour winds and hail the size of billiard balls."

Wollondilly SES was supported by volunteers from units from Wingecarribee and Moss Vale.

Other units from Sydney, the NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW Police and Fire and Rescue helped respond to the disaster.


© ABC 2021

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