Damage costs mount as clean-up continues

Kate MatthewsCountryman

Clean-up efforts after last week's storms and heavy rains are continuing across the Great Southern and epicentres of Williams, Narrogin and Wandering.

While farmers are assessing the damage and cost to crops, the damage bill for roads could be more than $1 million.

Shires are hoping the storm is classed a 'proclaimed event' so they can receive WA Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (WANDRRA) funding.

The estimated damage to roads is more than $300,000 in Williams, $500,000 in the Shire of Narrogin, $100,000 in Dumbleyung and the Town of Narrogin is still assessing the damage.

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For many of the affected shires and farmers, it was a double blow after heavy rains on November 3.

Shire of Narrogin chief executive Geoff McKeown said they had applied for $223,000 in WANDRRA funding for the November damage and the same areas got hit harder in December.

In the Shire of West Arthur, chief executive Nicole Wasmann said the initial damage was estimated at $40,000 but the rising river last week and flooding of local roads would see the bill climb.

With the heavy rainfall, local river systems were inundated, recording the highest levels since the 1982 floods.

Department of Water executive director Paul Brown said the saddleback gauging station on the Williams River, 60km downstream of Williams townsite, rose from 0.29m to 3.96m in 24 hours with a flow rated of 124 cubic metres a second. The 1982 flood level was 5.6m with a maximum flow rate of 294m{+3}/s.

The rain has also sparked keen interest from skiers and jet skiers looking forward to summer.

Dumbleyung chief executive Henry Van Der Ende said they had received several inquiries from people wanting to know if there was enough water in the lake for jet skis.

Hit by the heaviest rain was Williams farmer and lotfeeder Gordon Atwell who received 228mm.

Mr Atwell said they lost 5km of fencing, 80 sheep, one dam and baled hay in paddocks.

"Our paddocks are a bottomless bog and it will take a month to clean up and tidy," he said.

The Atwells had just built a 18,000 square metre dam which is now full.

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