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WA storm prompts big clean-up as Perth dashcam video shows large tree crushing car

Wednesday February 26, 2020 - 20:25 EDT
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A driver's dashcam captured a moment a huge tree toppled onto a car in Wembley. - ABC

Dramatic footage has emerged of a lucky escape on Perth's roads during a destructive storm authorities have described as the most severe to hit the city in almost a decade.

Workers have been mopping up damage after the hit Perth and parts of the Wheatbelt on Tuesday afternoon, causing widespread damage, creating peak-hour traffic chaos and knocking out power to thousands of WA homes.

One driver on Harborne Street in the suburb of Wembley escaped serious injury when a large tree fell onto her car, stopping it in its tracks and crushing the middle section of the vehicle.

Police said the woman was trapped in the car for some time but was eventually freed.

Dashcam footage of the near miss was recorded by another motorist who was driving on Harborne Street at the time and saw the tree fall before other passers-by rushed to help.

The witness, Ron, told ABC Radio Perth he could not believe the woman survived.

"The guys who jumped out to help, they couldn't open the front door and I thought 'oh no'," he said.

"I was certain that the person had been killed, it's a very big tree.

"I was convinced the person wasn't going to get out of the car. It was only when I saw it on the news or someone told me later that the person had got out that I was so relieved."

The woman was assessed by St John Ambulance at the scene before being taken to Royal Perth Hospital as a precaution.

Tennis-ball-sized hailstones and no water supply

Water has been trucked in to one regional WA town after the storm cut off supplies.

Victoria Plains Shire President Pauline Bantock, whose remit includes the town of Calingiri, told ABC Radio Perth she had "never seen hail like it".

"It was bigger than golf-ball-size and they came down initially as a 'bang, bang' and then it just came down in a flood, and lasted for about 10 minutes all up," Ms Bantock said.

She said she had received many calls reporting damage to infrastructure.

"There's a lot of towns out of power, I know there are reports of Calingiri … and that's actually affected the water supply to about 100 residents," she said.

"They [the Water Corporation] are now trucking in drinking water from Bindoon. Hopefully that will restore some drinking water in the meantime to the town.

"I think our roads crew will have a busy few days ahead of them assessing the whole area of the shire."

Jenny Ash runs the local and only store in Calingiri and said her water supply was cut off, but they could still provide petrol to motorists as they had a generator to run the pump.

But she said she had heard many other towns had lost power, which meant their petrol supplies were affected.

"We're on limited power because we had internal damage to some of our power boards," she said.

"We're just doing what we can."

Most severe storm to hit Perth since 2010

According to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, the main areas affected were East Victoria Park, Menora, Nollamara, Clarkson, Carlisle and Heathridge.

Over the course of six hours, more than 700 calls were made to emergency services, including almost 300 requests for help as homes were damaged, trees uprooted and power lines brought down.

DFES chief superintendent Stuart Wade said it was the most severe storm to hit Perth in a decade.

"Perth experienced its most severe storm since the 2010 March hailstorms," he said.

"There were over 350 calls to triple zero and another 350 calls to the 132 500 [emergency assistance] number, which resulted in 280 calls for assistance and 140 responses from the Fire and Rescue Service.

"Most of our requests were in the northern suburbs relating to trees down, water damage and structural damage."

In addition to the Wembley near-miss, emergency services responded a number of other reports of fallen trees hitting cars, but nobody was seriously hurt.

Perth recorded 19 millimetres of rain between 4:30pm and 9:30pm on Tuesday as the storm passed.

More rain forecast as disruption lingers

Up to 10mm of rain was predicted in Perth on Wednesday, but the city had only recorded 1mm by late evening while reaching a top of 30 degrees Celsius during the day.

More storms are predicted for Thursday and Friday before conditions ease on the weekend.

Western Power restored electricity to 18,000 customers on Tuesday night but about 5,000 houses remained without power on Wednesday in Perth and 7,200 in regional WA, with towns including Northam, Cunderdin, Moora, Wongan Hills, Dalwallinu and Bencubbin affected.

Somerly Primary School in Perth's north was closed while cleaning and repairs were carried out, after various classrooms were inundated with water.

The school is expected to reopen on Thursday.

Repairs were also organised at Lathlain Primary School and West Leederville Primary School after trees were brought down.



© ABC 2020

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