Cyclone Seroja: Storm leaves trail of damage in Western Australia; thousands without power
Tropical cyclone Seroja has ripped across a 1 000km stretch of Western Australia, leaving a trail of damage. The category three storm made landfall near the town of Kalbarri on Sunday, 11 April 2021, with gusts of up to 170km/h. The storm was later downgraded to a tropical low, though strong winds continue to move south-east. Residents reported smashed houses, fallen trees and downed power lines. Emergency services said about 70 percent of structures in Kalbarri, which is home to about 1 500 people, were damaged by the cyclone. Several towns in the state's south-east remain under "red alert" on Monday, meaning residents were advised to take shelter. More than 31 500 customers lost power in Calvary, Geraldton, Northampton, Dongara, Port Denison and Mullewa, according to Western Power. Phone services were also affected, with Telstra reporting widespread outages to its mobile network.
In Northampton, a town of less than 1 000 people about an hour's drive south, there was also "widespread damage", Western Australia's emergency services department said.
Weather authorities said Cyclone Seroja had maintained "uncommon" pace and strength throughout Sunday night, as it moved from Kalbarri and Geraldton on the coast and inland across the state's Wheat Belt.
Emergency services received more than 180 calls for help on Monday, a Department of Fire and Emergency Services spokeswoman said. The majority of the requests for assistance came from Calvary.
Government emergency funding is being offered to affected residents.
Before the storm hit, state Premier Mark McGowan warned that the cyclone was "like nothing we have seen before in decades". The Bureau of Meteorology said it was the first cyclone to hit some affected areas since 1956.
Last month, areas of eastern Australia were evacuated as rivers and dams overflowed in the worst floods in decades, with around 18 000 people displaced.
Source: BBC, ABC News, CNN