Albany SES volunteers lend a hand in devastated Kalbarri

Campbell WilliamsonAlbany Advertiser
Part of the destruction at Kalbarri caused by tropical cyclone Seroja.
Camera IconPart of the destruction at Kalbarri caused by tropical cyclone Seroja. Credit: Simon Hydzik/7NEWS

Albany’s State Emergency Service volunteers have stepped up once again to help the residents of cyclone-ravaged Kalbarri.

Cyclone Seroja made landfall near Kalbarri last month with gusts of 170km/h, smashing the coastline and leaving a trail of damage in its wake.

More than 800 homes were damaged and 32 buildings destroyed by the cyclone, but luckily, there was no loss of life in Kalbarri.

In the aftermath, SES volunteers from across WA rolled up their sleeves to help, including six from Albany, more than 850km away.

Albany SES volunteer Scott Larking said the devastation that confronted the crew when they arrived was difficult to describe.

Albany SES volunteers lend a hand filling sand bags.
Camera IconAlbany SES volunteers lend a hand filling sand bags. Credit: Albany State Emergency Service

“Driving around and seeing the damage that was caused ...every third or fourth house was left standing and others were taken back right to their concrete base,” he said.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in my lifetime. It was pretty confronting. It was quite a shock for all of us that went up. For me to paint you a proper picture is really hard unless you were up there to witness it yourself.”

Albany volunteer spent a week helping the Kalbarri clean-up.
Camera IconAlbany volunteer spent a week helping the Kalbarri clean-up. Credit: Albany State Emergency Service

Mr Larking said he was inspired by the resilience of the Kalbarri locals who had weathered the storm.

“It’s just devastating, but the community was so stoic,” he said.

“We spoke to a few of them. Considering what the whole community had gone through they were really stoic and they were very welcoming, just welcoming every emergency service team that was up there in a situation that was devastating.”

The Albany SES brigade helped to remove fallen trees, set up sandbags and clear debris.

“I got a phone call asking if I could go up and help with the cyclone repairs in Kalbarri. A couple of members asked what we were doing and I said I’m actually on holidays,” Mr Larking said.

“But when the call goes out, if we can do it, we’ll drop what we’re doing to come up and help everyone out.”

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