20 Oct 2021, 1:51 PM UTC
Massive clean-up after terrifying hailstorm that ravaged Coffs Harbour
A huge hailstorm that battered Coffs Harbour and stunned residents and emergency workers on Wednesday has left a damage bill in the hundreds of millions, says a local MP. Today, emergency teams are working their way through almost 800 calls for help, following the "apocalyptic" hailstorm that smashed the NSW Mid North Coast. The supercell swept through Coffs Harbour and its southern suburbs yesterday afternoon, dumping golf ball sized hail. Streets and front yards resembled ski fields due to the sheer volume of hail that fell, causing extensive damage to homes and businesses. ?We?ve just ticked over 790 jobs since the incident began, so that puts it up there with one of the biggest, if not the biggest, incidents that the Coffs Coast has seen as a result of any storm,? SES Coffs Harbour Deputy Unit Commander Martin Wells said. ?More than 90 per cent of those calls are for roof damage, broken skylights, tiles and water inundation into properties from backfilling gutters that were full of hail. "Thankfully, a lot of those initial inundation issues will have been resolved as the ice melted and the water got away. "But we?ve still got more than 720 jobs in the system to attend to today,? Mr Wells said. Water inundation has resulted in at least four schools in the region closing their doors today as the damage is assessed. The Insurance Council is meeting with insurance companies today to attempt to put a dollar figure on the damage. Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh said the final figure would be astronomical. "The damage will be in the tens of millions, if not the hundreds of millions of dollars," he said. Mr Singh said his state counterparts had already approached the federal government to apply for the region to be subject to a Natural Disaster Declaration. That would open up a number of avenues for special assistance for residents and business owners. For now, SES, Fire and Rescue NSW and the Rural Fire Service are working through the backlog of jobs, which include damage to four nursing homes. In one facility, 40 rooms have had skylights broken by the hail. Mr Wells said there had been a lot of reflection on the storm among members. "One of our members who?s been here for 40 years is just shaking his head in disbelief at some of the footage we?ve seen coming through," he said. "It was apocalyptic and we are now dealing with the remnants of that.?