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Cyclone Seroja disaster relief payments extended in WA's Mid West after hundreds of homes hit

By Natasha Harradine, Francesca Mann and Glenn Barndon, Friday April 16, 2021 - 08:31 EST
ABC image
Victims of the cyclone in multiple shires can now apply for funding. - ABC

The federal government has announced a disaster recovery payment and allowance for people affected by Tropical Cyclone Seroja is being extended, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison toured the cyclone-struck region.


People in the Carnamah, Chapman Valley, Greater Geraldton, Mingenew, Morawa, Perenjori and Three Springs local government areas can now access the support package.


The package was initially only available to people in the Shire of Northampton, prompting frustration from cyclone victims who were told they were not eligible.


Federal Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said additional shires would also become eligible in coming days, once the WA government had assessed the extent of the damage.


"As communication lines improve and we?re able to get that understanding [of the damage] quicker, we?re now ready to sign away and get it up and going," he said.


"It?s very important people understand that in their hour of need, your fellow Australians are with you.


"This is just the first piece of support to give you some dignity and respect. We?ll be there for the road to recovery, no matter how long it takes."


The disaster recovery payment is a one-off, non-means-tested payment of $1,000 per eligible adult and $400 per child who have been adversely affected by a major disaster, either in Australia or overseas.


The disaster recovery allowance is a 13-week, short-term income support payment to assist individuals who can demonstrate that their income has been affected as a direct result of a disaster.


Authorities have also moved to assure farmers they will not be left behind.


"To those people in remote farming communities, we haven't forgotten about you either," WA Emergency Services Minister Reece Whitby said.


"We understand that you are suffering too."


Prime Minister Scott Morrison said support would be in place for agricultural producers who lost income.


"They will see a full year of income, I would have thought, that they won't be able to generate," Mr Morrison said.


Moonyoonooka resident Tammy Treasure said it was a relief to hear her family now qualified for the payment.


The roof of their 80-year-old farmhouse was ripped off, and Ms Treasure was worried the home could sustain further damage over the next few weeks, as the roof was unable to be covered with a tarp.


"To get a bit of bright news is just great," she said.


"It's only a small amount of money but it's such a hard thing to go through and there's so much going on all at once.


"We're still on generator power and constantly have to get fuel, we've got almost no internet and I haven't been able to work all week, so even things like going grocery shopping are a luxury that's really hard to achieve."


Victims will be looked after: Littleproud


Mr Littleproud said the financial help had been fast-tracked to residents in Kalbarri and Northampton, which bore the brunt of Cyclone Seroja on Sunday night, prior to the state government's assessments.


"The damage we had reported back to us met the threshold immediately," Mr Littleproud said.


"We were simply trying to streamline and expedite [funding for] any shire we could find as quickly as we could to relieve the pressure.


"If someone has been impacted, they're going to be looked after. We just need to do that in a responsible way using taxpayers' money as quickly as we can."


More than $300,000 has been paid to cyclone-affected residents to date.


A statement from Mr Littleproud's office said the federal government would continue assessing the impacts of the disaster and would offer further support if necessary.


WA Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said further assessments showed 32 buildings across the region were totally lost of result of the cyclone, including 23 houses.


A total of 875 buildings had some form of damage.


To support the clean-up effort, Commissioner Klemm said another 15 teams from interstate would arrive in the coming days.


He said there were already about 500 DFES volunteers in the region helping with the recovery effort.


On top of the short-term support payments, Mr Whitby said authorities were working to determine what further funding would be appropriate, and added that money would be coming out of the Lord Mayor's Relief Fund shortly.


Clearance has been given for 36 public schools in the path of the cyclone to reopen when term 2 begins next week.


A further 10 public schools are still being assessed.







- ABC

© ABC 2021

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