25 Oct 2021, 1:46 PM UTC
SES fears storm preparations overlooked during COVID-19 lockdown
The SES is reminding people to not let the pandemic distract them from preparing their homes for the storm season. Thunderstorms at the weekend caused hail damage to homes in Coolah in the Central West of NSW, prompting 20 calls for assistance. David Rankine from the SES said it was possible people have not done their usual preparations this year due to COVID-19. "You know people have been really focused on getting their kids home-schooled, working from home, those sorts of things," he said. "Now's the perfect opportunity to maybe just get up on the roof and clear out any gutters that may be blocked up with leaves." Mr Rankin said trimming branches and securing loose items were some other steps people could take to prepare. He said trampolines should also be secured down if possible, as they could travel dozens of metres in a strong wind. The violent storm that ripped through Coolah on Saturday evening resulted in smashed windows and skylights from hail the size of tennis balls. SES crews from Dubbo, Wellington, Mudgee, Orange and Dunedoo were called in to help with the clean-up. While there were no reports of serious agricultural crop damage, Mr Rankine said the severity of the storm was unexpected. "The problem with some of these little super cells is that they're very hard to predict where they're going to land. "It [the weather forecast] did suggest there was some heavy thunderstorms and heavy rain. "The hail was probably a little bit hard to predict but it took some, certainly the community of Coolah, by surprise." Further storms predicted The severe storm followed recent tornados in Bathurst and Armidale. Mr Rankine said many of the SES volunteers involved in the Coolah clean-up had been involved in the Armidale emergency response. "I was up there personally and the damage was unbelievable," he said "There was probably 300 houses damaged in that storm. "So storm season has really kicked off with a bang across Western New South Wales, and it's been a busy time for volunteers." He said people need to be prepared for more windy days and potential flooding. "It's probably minor flooding but if we get we get heavy rain in some of those communities it could be more significant"