The popular West Australian tourist spot of Kalbarri looks more like a “war zone” after being pummelled by Tropical Cyclone Seroja, Premier Mark McGowan says.
The premier flew into the town on Tuesday and said the devastation was readily visible from the air, with buildings, businesses and farms damaged and power poles snapped off, some halfway up.
“It shows the enormous power of the cyclone,” Mr McGowan said.
“This was the one in 50-year event, an extraordinary cyclone which caused massive amounts of damage throughout this community and throughout this region.
“We are very fortunate that in the course of this cyclone, there was no serious injury or death.”
Up to 70 per cent of the properties in Kalbarri, 580 kilometres north of Perth, are thought to have been damaged by the cyclone which hit late on Sunday as a category three storm with winds up to 170km/h.
It has since been downgraded and has moved offshore from WA’s south coast.
Evacuation centres are open in Shark Bay, Dongara and Geraldton and army reservists are assisting State Emergency Service volunteers.
The Australian Defence Force will provide a C-130J Hercules aircraft for medical evacuations and to transport emergency workers and supplies.
Mr McGowan said power was still to be restored to about 29,000 properties across the mid-west and the Gascoine and the clean-up from the cyclone would take a “massive effort”.
But he said the people of the region were extremely resilient and were dealing with the disaster in good spirits.
“Clearly it has been a very difficult and devastating experience for many people,” he said.
“Obviously the reconstruction will take some time, we will work with the commonwealth government, the local government, the emergency funding that will need to be provided to restore particular public assets.
“I ask people to be patient, it will take some time, the devastation is quite extraordinary.”
Tourists have been asked to steer clear of the area where the combined state and federal disaster relief is expected to exceed the $18 million spent on the Wooroloo bushfires which destroyed 86 homes northeast of Perth in February.