13 December, 2020
Winds of up to 100 kmph slam the region
The central west was wracked with rain and high-speed winds over the weekend, with Gilgandra SES receiving 19 calls for aid. Gales of upwards of 100 kmph ripped rooves off at least two houses in the Gilgandra shire.
Despite the severity of the storm and the damage caused nobody was seriously injured. One of the rooves destroyed belonged to June Bell, whose son-in-law Paul Hiscock happened to be down to help with preparations for Christmas. Mr Hiscock said he and Mrs Bell took shelter in the kitchen as the “ferocious and deafening” winds tore at the tin roof.
“It was like someone grabbed a can opener and just peeled the roof off."
“We were inside, and it just hit us like a big brick wall.
The ceiling panels came off and the whole house was shaking. Doors and windows
shaking, pictures smashing everywhere and next minute all the water started
"It was scary because you didn’t know what was around you, it
was pitch black, there was no electricity, there were lightning strikes
everywhere, rain wherever you stood and you could just hear the sheet panels
get ripped to pieces," he said.
Mr Hiscock said that despite how shaken the storm had left him, he was glad to be here for Mrs Bell rather than her going through it herself.
After coming off two calls in Coonamble on Thursday and Friday, Gilgandra SES were right back at it on Saturday night working from 7pm until 2am clearing debris off the Newell Highway and securing damaged homes. Unit commander Geoff Kiehne said that Gilgandra volunteers logged 105 hours of work during the three days.
“I’m very, very happy with the efforts of our volunteers. It’s great that a number of people continue to put their hands up time and time again, working till 2am in the morning and getting up at 10am to get back to it. I’m very proud of our volunteers they did a sterling job,” said Mr Kiehne.
“It was amazing how many local council roads were blocked as we were trying to get to places, we just kept having to clear debris. On Mialla Road, Balladoran, we probably had to clear off six trees," said Mr Kiehne.
“There were some 15 to 20 large trees and branches blocking the highway and we were basically out there providing traffic control and towing and clearing away debris. We responded to a few houses in the Balladoran, Gilgandra south areas. A couple of houses was all but total write-offs, there was some massive damage.”
Mr Kiehne said that though this storm in particular was wider than usual, causing damage on a roughly five-kilometre-wide front, these kinds of weather events are not unusual at this time of year.
“Those wild and angry storms are usually quite narrow, they tend not to damage broad areas of property but the storm on Saturday night was quite broad. It was probably five kilometres of power outages, mobile outages and general storm damage. It was probably wider than what one might expect but that sort of storm activity isn’t unusual.”