The Prime Minister rolled up his sleeves to help clean debris after ex-tropical cyclone Seroja, which destroyed 32 buildings in the West Australian tourist town Kalbarri.
Scott Morrison said on Friday afternoon that disaster recovery payments of $1000 would be extended to include all local government areas hit by the severe storm as the scale of the damage was revealed.
More than 870 buildings were damaged during the cyclone, with 22 houses destroyed, while a mammoth 35,000 square km area was affected by the disaster.
“There is also income support for businesses that have lost because of the interruption of their work or their businesses, and that goes on for 13 weeks,” Mr. Morrison told reporters.
“These types of payments have been essential.” The local government areas of Chapman Valley, Dalwallinu, Greater Geraldton, Morawa, and Shark Bay are now eligible to receive financial assistance. Previously it was just the Shire of Northampton.
Department of Fire and Emergency (DFES) commissioner Darren Klemm said his crews were being helped by the Australian Defence Force to assess damage on the massive expanses hit by the cyclone.
“There’s so much to do,” he said of the roughly 700 DFES members helping out. “It is one of the fantastic things about emergency services in Western Australia and in Australia more broadly, is that the way that the whole community comes together to support everybody else.”
On Thursday, Commissioner Klemm estimated the damage bill could be as high as $200m, with asbestos fears clouding the recovery efforts for many. WA Premier Mark McGowan described it as a traumatic event, with ramifications that would roll on for some time, noting a different 491 properties were also affected moderately or slightly.
“It’s really quite extraordinary to see what the cyclone did to some people’s businesses and homes,” he told reporters on Thursday. “The assessment of the total cost of the damage we don’t know yet — that’s an ongoing process.”