In the wake of cyclone Seroja battering parts of the Mid West earlier this month, Lower South West residents decided not to just stand by and watch. A taskforce of 12 State Emergency Service volunteers from across the region decided to drive up on April 12 and help out their fellow West Australians devastated by the effects of the category-two cyclone in areas such as Kalbarri, Geraldton and Northampton. Among the first to put their hand up was Bridgetown SES deputy manager Richard Bothe. Despite being part of the Bridgetown team for just over five years, Mr Bothe was still awe-struck by the damage inflicted by the cyclone. “The damage was immense,” he said. “When we first got there, driving into Geraldton ... was really eerie because there was no power, so there was no lights on anywhere and we got there at night-time.” Upon arrival in Northampton, where the South West team was based, Mr Bothe saw first hand the hardships that lay ahead for the residents. “Just the sheer force and power of that kind of weather system is amazing,” he said. “I think pretty much every house in Northampton had some form of damage.” The SES team soon set about performing the tasks necessary to help the community. “So for us this was chainsaw work, roof safety systems and storm damage were the big things ... that people need to work in that environment,” he said. Subsequent teams have since gone up and taken over as a relief force for the first team deployed. On April 22, six new volunteers were sent up, while five came home on rotation. Mr Bothe said it may be possible that further volunteers would also be sent up, given the amount of damage in the area. “Look, the amount of destruction up there will take weeks, and these communities two years to completely rebuild,” he said. New volunteers can join the Manjimup SES by calling 0427 389 766 and the Bridgetown branch on 0437 805 554.