Cyclone leaves trail of ruin on West Australia Mid West coast

These images show the disaster wrought by the tropical cyclone that smashed into Western Australia’s Mid West coast on the weekend.

Ex-tropical cyclone Seroja made landfall on Sunday night, just south of Kalbarri, as a category 3 storm.

The fierce storm brought destructive winds gusting at up to 170km/h and damaged homes, properties and livelihoods in its wake.

Locals raced to take refuge as the eye of the storm bore down, with Kalbarri and Northampton the worst-hit areas.

Up to 70 per cent of properties in Kalbarri were damaged.

The cyclone flattened some homes, leaving them to resemble tangled wrecks and spread debris through the streets.

Heartbroken residents are now tallying up the cost of the clean-up, with the recovery from the disaster expected to cost millions.

Telephone communications are hoped to be restored by lunch time, but 29,000 people are still without power through the Mid West coast and Gascoyne regions.

Restoring power could take days as the network was extensively damaged, the state government says.

Premier Mark McGowan surveyed the devastation from the air on Tuesday and saw power poles snapped in half.

He said it was remarkable no one was injured or killed in the “extraordinary” one-in-50-year event.

“It looks to me like large parts of Kalbarri and other communities near here are a war zone,” Mr McGowan told reporters.

“The clean-up year is going to be a massive exercise, a massive effort and I’m sure it will take a considerable period of time.

“It’s been a devastating experience I’m sure for many people in these communities. A difficult time lies ahead.”

Mr McGowan asked tourists to stay away for the time being as the clean-up got under way.

He paid tribute to the resilience of those affected and the emergency services, volunteers and utility authorities for their work.

He also urged people to be patient, as the reconstruction would take time.

Mr McGowan said the state would work with the commonwealth and local governments to ensure emergency funds were provided to rebuild.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is due to arrive in West Australia on Tuesday evening, with the state looking for federal support for the rebuild.

Federal Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said 40 emergency services personnel from across Australia were being sent to support the clean-up as assessments of damage continue.

Mr Littleproud said immediate support from the government would be available.

He said he also contacted the insurance industry on Tuesday over his concerns about the extent of insurance coverage in affected areas.

“We want clarity from the insurance industry about their support and their contractual arrangements with those policyholders, being household and small businesses,” he said.

The federal government was working with the state government and industry to ensure whatever support needed was provided, he added.

He said the West Australian government would continue to lead the recovery effort, praising it for its “outstanding” response to the disaster.

The Bureau of Meteorology has no record of a cyclone so far south in Western Australia, he added.

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