MINISTER for Police and Emergency Services Michael Gallacher visited residents and areas affected by Sunday’s severe storms on a visit to the region yesterday.
Following a press conference at Tamworth SES headquarters yesterday to thank Namoi and district State Emergency Service workers, the minister toured Piper St and Hyman St, whose residents reported roof damage and fallen trees and powerlines during the storm.
The Namoi SES reported just under 150 call-outs for assistance during and after the storm, in which gusts of up to 137km/h were reported.
Tamworth SES received over half of those calls, with the majority of calls from East and North Tamworth.
Namoi SES acting region controller Andrew Galvin said the wind caused the bulk of the damage which was spread across Narrabri, Wee Waa and Boggabri, as well as Gunnedah, Liverpool Plains and Tamworth.
Mr Gallacher spoke about the considerable damage from the “near cyclonic event” to residents and local businesses, saying speaking to SES members had given him a better understanding of the issues that residents faced.
He said while no emergency funding was currently available for affected residents to access, it was in the process of being assessed.
“We’re continuing to assess the damage and investigating what action the government needs to take,” Mr Gallacher said.
He also touched on the issue of fatigue, saying SES had not only faced localised storm damage, but had been working around the clock assisting the Rural Fire Service with a number of fires burning around the region, including the large Wambelong fire near Coonabarabran which has destroyed a number of properties.
He toured the affected area yesterday after leaving Tamworth, visiting residents who lost homes and firefighters who have been working around the clock to fight the bushfire.
He said communities that had been flooded this time last year were struggling again this year with a different threat, that of fire.
“This time last year we had 75 per cent of NSW under water. Now it’s fire that communities are facing.
“With increased temperatures forecast again this weekend it’s necessary to appreciate the people in the orange uniforms and all they do for us and our communities,” Mr Gallacher said.
Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson joined the minister in his thanks, saying he had witnessed first-hand the difficulty of fighting fires at a blaze near Attunga last week.
“We need to show our support for our SES and volunteers. In the meantime we’re still continuing to assess the damage from Sunday’s storms,” he said.
Mr Anderson said he had been in close contact with Mr Gallacher during the past few days and was working with Gunnedah and Tamworth mayors Owen Hasler and Col Murray to assess further assistance needed.