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Feeling of numbness overcomes SW sailor
Feeling of numbness overcomes SW sailor

David Constantine was still numb as he looked at the wreckage of his life yesterday.

The keen sailor scrambled to safety after his 42ft timber sailing boat ran aground when the jetty it was attached to snapped away from its anchorage at Port Bouvard Marina near Mandurah on Sunday.

Mr Constantine said his 58-year-old boat Ringani was irreplaceable - and was his home. "I don't know what I'm going to do, I just feel numb, I can't afford to repair it," he said. "A classic example of maritime history has been destroyed."

Mr Constantine said he was now homeless. He had been on the uninsured boat when fierce winds and large swells enveloped the vessel.

"The wind gusts were just incredible," he said. "As soon as it hit land, I jumped off because I was worried the mast would come down and knock me out."

Tales of loss and heartbreak emerged from across the South West yesterday as residents came out to survey the damage from the worst storm many had ever seen.

Assumption Catholic Primary school principal Geri O'Keefe said the powerful winds on Sunday caused about $100,000 damage to the Port Bouvard school.

"The roof on two classrooms peeled away like a sardine tin about 2.30pm," she said.

In Bunbury, State Emergency Service volunteers were scrambling to cope with about 200 calls - including 40 priority jobs - as wild weather continued.

Roger and Vicki Clements, in the southern Bunbury suburb of Withers, lost their roof and the back half of their house, when trees came crashing down on their Sweeting Way home.

Yesterday, the couple and their niece Kaylah Scrivener were scrambling to clear up their destroyed yard and prepare for worse weather predicted for today.

Ms Clements said the first she knew of the storm was when the power went out suddenly at 2.30pm.

"The first tree went through the fence, then another went over the back of the house," she said.

"We were out and tried to get the SES, but couldn't get through, we were trying to clear trees, but luckily two guys passing by just came and helped us with the tarpaulins, and we got them up quickly."

Large parts of Bunbury and the South West were closed off after streets were covered in fallen powerlines. Minninup Road resident Brian Cole emerged from the storm to find someone else's roof wrapped in a tree in his backyard.

"We were inside at 2pm and just heard this roar, and obviously, it was someone else's roof, the lady next door saw it fly over her house," he said.

There was panic buying at shops across the South West, and long lines at the few petrol stations which remained open.

In Baldivis, customers at Masters Home Improvements were forced to huddle in the dark to be served, sales assistants using torches to hand out much needed supplies.

The Fire and Emergency Service's Chris Widmer was frantically busy at the Bunbury SES headquarters yesterday.