When the phone rings early in the morning, more often than not you know it’s not good news.
Listening to Bryan Whittaker, Kiama Council’s Director of Engineering and Works, relay details of a freak weather system and wild storm that had just minutes before left people without homes, the Kiama Leisure Centre significantly damaged, the fire station without a roof, roads blocked by trees and debris, and a significant loss of personal effects for hundreds of residents in Kiama, Gerringong and Jamberoo, was quite simply devastating.
As I drove along Terralong Street towards the Blue Haven Retirement Village, Kiama Leisure Centre and the fire station, the destruction I saw first-hand was astounding.
It was a scene Hollywood’s best directors would struggle to recreate. Mother Nature left her mark on a scale never seen here before and the stunned faces of the residents I saw summed up the feelings of shock and awe at that early stage. It was just unbelievable to everyone that morning.
The fact no lives were lost was a miracle, given the trail of destruction that was caused, but our thoughts go out to the lady who suffered some injury to her face from flying glass.
In times of adversity, we see the true depth of community spirit and teamwork come to the fore, and I am extraordinarily proud of the way the local emergency services and volunteers responded to what the NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has now a declared natural disaster.
The response plan has been well co-ordinated and tightly executed and my sincere thanks go to the various emergency services, all of whom reacted quickly to serve our community.
I would especially like to thank Local Area Commander Wayne Starling, Deputy Controller of the Kiama SES John Wall and Regional SES Controller Greg Murphy for their superior efforts coordinating the emergency services response to this natural disaster.
The efforts of council staff led by our General Manager and Director of Engineering and Works have also been ‘‘above and beyond’’ to ensure residents and businesses have been provided with information and support on a daily basis.
We invite the broader community to stay up-to-date as we now move into recovery mode.
Our website houses the latest information, people can like Kiama Municipal Council on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @KiamaCouncil.
We should remember that both Jamberoo and Gerringong areas suffered with a section of Kiama in this storm event, with houses unroofed and trees uprooted.
The clean-up in the aftermath of Sunday morning’s storm event will continue for months, and our local community will share the pain and anguish of those who will need to re-build their homes and start all over again.
Despite this situation, Kiama remains the bustling, thriving town it was before 3am on Sunday, February 24. We hope people will continue to visit and show their support as we get back on our feet.
Kiama Mayor Councillor Brian Petschler