Roofs off, power out after Wheatbelt storm
Flooding after the Wheatbelt storm. Picture: Rachelle Coppen

Update: A freak storm has hit the Wheatbelt town of Corrigin, ripping roofs off buildings and leaving more than 500 residents without power.

By 4.30pm today Western Power had returned power to most homes and businesses in the town, which is situated about 250km south-east of Perth.

Repair crews from Merredin, Northam, Cunderdin, Southern Cross and Balcatta were sent to the area where they battled muddy conditions.

A helicopter was inspecting power lines for further damage.

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State Emergency Service workers are still working at three properties.

The destructive winds flattened fences, uprooted trees, ripped the roofs off several buildings in the town and on nearby farms. The 90-year-old Corrigin Hotel on Walton Street has had part of its roof torn off. The Corrigin Primary School was also damaged.

Farmer Garrick Connelly, who has a farm 3km south of Corrigin, said the storm went from minor to major very quickly and he watched helplessly as it damaged his property.

Mr Connelly said at about 4.50am it all of a sudden got a bit scary.

“We went and sheltered on the south end of the house and basically watched it all happen from there,” he said.

“We lost the roof of our shearing shed, the roof of the fertiliser shed, half the roof of the hay shed and an old house, and a sliding door of a shed.”

“There’s rubbish everywhere.”

“The Corrigin Hotel had a few sheets of tin ripped off the roof and the bike shed at the school was damaged.”

“A neighbour lost their machinery shed and another had sheets of tin ripped off.”

The roof of a wool shed was also destroyed in the storm. Picture: Michael O'Brien/The West Australian

Mr Connelly said that they were lucky that the harvest was all cleaned up and said that it has just been a “big inconvenience”.

He was supposed to go to Hopetoun tomorrow for 10 days but said that the trip would most likely have to be set back.

Locals told ABC Radio this morning that the storm's peak hit about 6pm yesterday with very high winds. Dust storms were also reported.

Corrigin Pharmacy worker Youshan Eaw was stuck driving in the storm.

“It started off last night about 4.30 when it started raining and I thought it was a bit strange and then it started raining heavily and hail was falling,” the pharmacist said. “As I was driving there were some trees down and houses without roofs and then the power went out.

“It all happened really fast.

“I’ve seen a few buildings without roofs and with orange plastic on top - everything is just really scattered.”

Before power was returned to the area, Western Power said a generator was being used to power the Corrigin Hospital and another was to be installed in the CBD to provide power for businesses.

Ms Eaw said the local IGA supermarket had its own generator so it was still operating while most were without power earlier in the day.

She said that most of the roads had been cleared but that there were still lots of trees on paths.

According to Weather Bureau the storm was "an isolated incident".

Garrick Connelly's Corrigin farm after the storm. Pic by Garrick Connelly

A spokesman said such a storm was unusual for this time of the year.

He said there was little data from from the area, however wind gusts of 85km/h were recorded. There was no rain in the guage.

Farmer Frank Connolly told ABC Radio this morning that he had lost roof off a cottage and several sheds.

He said corrugated iron from one she was hurled more than 100 metres by the winds.

"Massive gum trees snapped like carrots...there are trees down everywhere, it's quite unbelievable," he said.


The West Australian

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