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Homes evacuated for storm asbestos clean-up

Tuesday February 26, 2013 - 19:48 EDT
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Asbestos sheeting is strewn around the area damaged by the storm. - ABC

Homes on the New South Wales south coast have been evacuated as crews clean up asbestos and other debris from a suspected tornado on Sunday morning.

Asbestos sheeting is strewn along both Minnamurra Street and Swan Place at Kiama after the freak winds which destroyed at least three homes and damaged about 70.

The cancer-causing material is dangerous when small fibres become airborne.

People living in 14 houses and two apartment blocks in the area had to move out overnight while the clean-up takes place.

Experts from the weather bureau say the clear cut path of damage indicate that it was a tornado that hit the area.

Lake Illawarra Police Superintendent, Wayne Starling says authorities are hoping to get the streets restored as soon as possible.

"Our experts tell us that the problem is once you get the machinery in there, the safety of everybody in that area is compromised," he said.

"The experts have told us it could be as long as seven days...we can contact each of the people that have been displaced and keep them in contact or advised of what's happening.

"We just know at the moment for their own safety, we need to get them out of their homes."

Kiama is one of ten regions across the state to be declared a natural disaster zone.

Local MP Gareth Ward says the damage bill is expected to be in the millions.

He says the disaster assistance funding will speed up the recovery process.

"These funds will be about getting the town back together, getting local council's infrastructure back to scratch," he said.

"Things like the leisure centre at Kiama, which lost its roof. Things like the emergency services fire centre at Kiama, which has also lost a significant part of the structure of that building.

"A number of primary producers, particularly in the Jamberoo area have been affected."

The MP says the funding is available to anyone affected by the storm.


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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