A powerful tropical cyclone has wreaked havoc in Western Australia with the premier labelling it like nothing the state has “seen in decades”.
Seroja made landfall south of Kalbarri at about 8pm AWST on Sunday as a category three storm, bringing wind gusts of up to 170km/h at the centre as it reached land.
The storm has already claimed one life in Australia after a 38-year-old was electrocuted in Coral Bay after a caravan park's power pole fell due to strong winds, 7News reports.
The fast-moving storm weakened to a category two system as it pushed inland towards Dalwallinu in a south-east direction at more than 60km/h.
Reports of property damage and power outages in Kalbarri and Geraldton emerged as the storm's force was felt and residents took shelter by candlelight.
Fallen trees, damaged homes and wrecked fences could be spotted amid the howling wind and rain in those towns, footage on social media showed.
WA SES issued a red alert for south of Carnarvon to Lancelin including Coorow, Carnamah, Dalwallinu, Denham, Jurien Bay, Lancelin, Moora, Paynes Find and Wongan Hills.
The cyclone will weaken as it travels further inland on Monday but is still likely to bring damaging winds and heavy rain as it moves through the eastern Wheatbelt, southern Goldfields and South East Coastal districts.
Premier warns of ‘significant damage’
Premier Mark McGowan told reporters Sunday the cyclone “is like nothing we have seen before in decades”.
“This is a very large storm that is posing a very serious threat lives and homes are at risk,” he said.
“We expect significant damage.”
The damage will be counted at daylight and could be extensive, with the Bureau of Meteorology expecting the impact to extend inland through to Wheatbelt communities overnight.
Western Power said more than 14000 homes in areas including Geraldton, Glenfield, Port Denison and Yetna are without power.
Crews have to wait for conditions to improve before they could restore it.
"Once the red alert is lifted and it's safe, our crews will start assessing damage and responding to hazards," Western Power's asset operations manager Zane Christmas said.
He said power crews had been preparing for Seroja since Friday but the damage caused by cyclones can make access to roads, properties and power infrastructure difficult, delaying repairs.
"Our top priority will be to make hazards safe, then commence restoration work as quickly as possible," Mr Christmas said.
120-year-old jetty smashed amid cyclone’s destruction
The historic One Mile Jetty at Carnarvon has been destroyed by strong winds and high tides lashing the area on Sunday afternoon.
The jetty was constructed in 1897 to transport sheep, wool and other goods to various parts of WA, and is heritage listed.
It has been in need of repair for a number of years. In 2019, it was reported the jetty faced a $42 million repair bill after it closed in 2017.
Vince Catania, the member for North West Central, wrote on Facebook the jetty’s destruction is “extremely sad”.
People shared their dismay at the demise of a popular swimming and fishing spot.
“Oh no such sad news,” one woman wrote. “Lovely memories of being in Carnarvon."
Another woman wrote she often fished at the jetty as a child.
“Let’s hope they rebuild it for future generations,” another woman wrote.
Roofs damaged, residents seek cover in pantry
Others have posted about damage being done to their own homes.
A Kalbarri resident tweeted his fence is gone along with “a few roof tiles”.
“All OK here though,” he tweeted.
Geraldton resident Ed Reynolds lost power and tweeted he also had a damaged fence.
Nine News reporter Darius Winterfield, in Kalbarri, tweeted that the roof of his balcony was ripped off with water “flooding through the windows”.
“I can hear alarms going off all around us and poked my head out the balcony, can already see a few shacks that have been absolutely smashed. This will be devastating for many come first light,” Winterfield tweeted.
Seven News reporter Ben Downie tweeted video of a home in Kalbarri completely destroyed.
“Can’t move from here but SES say far more devastation around Kalbarri,” he tweeted.
Downie earlier tweeted "it's literally raining sideways".
Kalbarri resident Jason Regan told The West he and his pregnant wife spent the worst of the storm hiding in the kitchen pantry.
“It’s the size of a small toilet so it’s pretty small but at least we have food,” Mr Regan told the paper.
Mr Regan added he heard “a few windows smash” and some “loud bangs”.
He believes he’s lost some of his roof.
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