Lower South West State Emergency Service crews help out with clean-up of Bunbury tornado

Anjelica SmilovitisManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Lower South West SES units respond to the Bunbury tornado.
Camera IconLower South West SES units respond to the Bunbury tornado. Credit: Supplied

State Emergency Service crews from the Lower South West have helped out Bunbury residents after a freak storm hit the city earlier this month.

Teams from Nannup, Bridgetown, Margaret River, Donnybrook and Manjimup combined with those from Bunbury and the Perth metropolitan area worked around the clock to help those affected by the May 10 tornado, which destroyed nine homes and severely damaged 16 others.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services said 14 units dropped everything to travel to the city to help, working over five days and responding to more than 130 requests for help.

Nannup SES deputy local manager Brian Gatfield said residents in the community came together with SES units to remove debris, clear fallen trees and replace broken tiles after the storm hit.

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“Everyone seemed to get stuck into getting things done,” Mr Gatfield said.

The Nannup team was focused on setting up roof safety systems to allow people to work on the roofs. Some homes required replacing tiles and removing broken pieces from the roof.

The team also laid plastic over holes so people with lightly damaged roofs could remain in their homes.

Mr Gatfield said residents from damaged homes were “positive” in spirit and focused on supporting SES units and neighbouring homes with tiles, drinking water and access to properties.

“From what I saw, nobody showed any despair in the residents we dealt with,” he said.

“All of them were positive and thankful for the work we were doing.”

Bridgetown SES local manager Richard Bothe said most people were in quite good humour and were thankful someone was there to give them a hand.

“We hop in and work together,” he said.

Mr Bothe said the Lower South West units trained the same way and while there were seven units from different locations in the region, they came together to form one unit.

“Tornados in Bunbury are pretty rare — it was a freak storm,” he said.

“People weren’t expecting it to happen.”

Mr Bothe said debris coming off the roofs of homes also impacted other homes in the street.

Both SES units encouraged the community to be well prepared during storms by putting away loose objects and tying down items in the backyard.

DFES’ Urban Search and Rescue Teams completed damage assessments of the impacted area the following Monday.

More than 600 properties were inspected with 220 properties assessed as having some level of damage.

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