Pedestrians in near miss with concrete sheet

Tuesday night’s wild winds blew off a large concrete sheet from a building in the CBD, almost hitting pedestrians.

A reader contacted the Mercury to say that he was near the former Salvation Army building in Burelli Street on Tuesday night when a large sheet of concrete came away from the wall and smashed onto the footpath.

The photos he took of the slab show it partially blocking the neighbouring public car park.

Picture supplied.

Picture supplied.

The building is no longer owned by the Salvation Army - it now forms part of the $70 million complex to be built on the old Dwyers site.

A five-stage mixed use development is planned for the site, comprising of 318 units above retail spaces and four levels of parking.

As part of the construction, this building will be demolished.

The development replaces the abandoned $160 million Gravity plan, which included cinemas, shops and offices.

Wollongong City Council employees responded quickly to the incident.

‘‘Council staff attended the site during the evening of June 24 after customer service contacted them about the wall collapse,’’ a council spokesman said.

‘‘Council staff moved the concrete section off the road/footpath and placed it back onto the building site.’’

Council staff have since erected protective fencing around the building and placed barricades along the roadway to act as a temporary footpath for pedestrians.

The spokesman said  owners of all private property are responsible for the structures on site. However, Council officers had not spoken to the owners as they had received any complaints or questions about the building.

The Mercury was unable to contact the new owner of the building.

The State Emergency Service has answered more than 800 calls for help this week - and is expecting more to come this weekend.

SES acting deputy region controller Alex McFadden said the bulk of the calls came through during the heavy winds on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning but continuing wind gusts have brought in calls in the last day or so.

‘‘Over the previous 24-hour period we had approximately 180 calls for help, bringing our total for the Illawarra and South Coast to approximately 800 calls for assistance since Monday,’’ Ms McFadden said.

We’ve almost caught up - we have about 45-50 outstanding jobs and they relate to trees that need to be chainsawed, and they need to be done in daylight hours.’’

She said the worst damage from the winds was the collapse of a wall in Mittagong, which pinned a man underneath. He was flown to Liverpool Hospital.

Generally, damage to homes has been more minor than that.

‘‘We’re seeing aerials ripped off from roofs, smashed tiles, skylights that have been broken,’’ she said.

‘‘We see the trees as being of the most concern for us as we have received such a large influx of jobs related to those. Also, the ones that gives us some concerns are the trampolines. State Emergency Service crews have responded to many jobs where trampolines have been blown into neighbour’s yards or on top of people’s roofs.

‘‘When they land, they land quite heavily so not only do they damage their own steel structure they also damage what they land on.

‘‘It could be fences, it could be roof tiles, garages, cars. We have seen quite a few of those so we’re encouraging people to turn their trampolines over which minimises the impact of the wind, so it can’t get under it and lift it.’’

She said the SES is keeping an eye on the weather forecast and preparing for more strong winds this weekend.

‘‘We did see some gusty winds come through yesterday but not to the strength that was predicted by the Bureau of Meteorology,’’ she said.

‘‘But a severe weather warning is still in place for the Illawarra and South Coast for those damaging winds to continue over the next few days.’’

The Bureau’s warning predicts damaging winds around 60 to 65km/h with peak gusts of 90km/h will hit parts of the Illawarra and South Coast on Thursday.

The forecast for the weekend is for 25-40km/h winds on Saturday and, on Sunday, wind speeds could reach as high as 55km/h.

‘‘The thing that we need people to do is to be prepared early,’’ Ms McFadden said.

‘‘So whilst we’re not necessarily seeing the strong winds today, it’s still important to be aware of the situation and make sure that they’re doing as much as they can to prepare for the gusty winds on the weekend.’’


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