Premier Mike Baird Declared NSW Super Storm as a ‘Natural Disaster’
NSW Premier Mike Baird had declared a natural disaster following the NSW super storm, which left three dead and several others missing. The state government has guaranteed financial assistance to the worst-hit areas, which would “obviously include Maitland, Dungog, and parts of the Central Coast.”
The Insurance Council of Australia deemed the “one-in-a-decade” NSW super storm a catastrophe, with losses amounting to more than $129 million. As of 7.a.m of Wednesday, April 22, 2015, more than 19,500 claims have been received by insurance companies from clients coming from the Central Coast, The Hunter, Sydney, and Illawarra regions.
Losses amounting to $129 million
“Every community can have this assurance: that we will do everything possible we can to help them get back on their feet,” stated Baird.
The declaration of natural disaster would enable local governments, businesses, and families to access state government assistance to help in the recovery process. Baird mentioned that there will be “grants that are available to councils, to businesses, to families in individual circumstances that will be worked through as part of that process.”
“The state of emergency really gives you additional powers in terms of asking people to be removed from particular areas (and provides) powers for our emergency workers to move and act very quickly in response to very severe situations,” Baird further added.
Baird said that they would wait until the NSW super storm has blown over before identifying the areas that would be included in the declaration and who would be given access to funds.
Restoring Power Immediate Priority
Restoring power to more than 200,000 homes was the immediate priority, said Baird.
Networks NSW Chief Executive Vince Graham urged the community to be patient. Power had been lost to roughly 130,000 homes in the Hunter, Newcastle, and lower north coast region. This is in addition to the 15,000 homes in Sydney and the 80,000 on the Central Coast that had also lost power.
Over 200,000 homes left with no power
“The sheer magnitude of this storm event will mean that there will be some extended days before we are able to restore power and I expect that it will be well into the weekend before we are mopping up the tail of this activity,” Graham stated.
Despite expectations of the storm easing up on Thursday, April, 23, 2015, Baird cautioned Australians against being complacent. Baird warned of the ongoing risk of flash flooding.
State Emergency Service Adam Dent stressed out the importance of staying away from flood waters. “It is just not worth it,” said Dent.
Roughly 100 individuals had been rescued after becoming trapped in flood waters “either by accident or by act.”