Cyclone Lua has battered the WA coast, making landfall as a category four cyclone and bringing lashing rain and 250km/h winds to Port Hedland. WA emergency services are assessing the damage. The cyclone has been downgraded from a category 4 to a category 2 and continues to weaken as it tracks south towards Wiluna and Kalgoorlie.
SES spokeswoman Lyn Bryant said the only report of damage had been to the Pardoo Roadhouse. She said a team would fly to Pardoo early today to inspect the damage, while police would check on the Jigalong settlement, which was lashed by heavy rain. Lua crossed the coastline at Pardoo about 3pm (WST) yesterday, packing winds of 250km/h and dumping heavy rain on the region. At the Pilbara roadhouse wild winds shook the building and water poured in everywhere.
Manager Janet Robb said she and her partner Ian Badger sat out the worst of the storm with their pet dog and were relieved to be alive. Their property, on the Great Northern Highway 150km east of Port Hedland, was in the path of the category 4 cyclone as it swept onto land packing 250km/h winds and driving rain. "It was absolutely horrific," Ms Robb said after the cyclone passed. "There was half an hour there where you thought, 'Is this ever going to end? Is the roof going to lift? Is the wall going to cave in?' "That's what it felt like because everything was moving." Ms Robb said all the trees in the grounds were down, the fuel bowsers had been blown over and the roadhouse had been damaged. "The water came in every door, every window seal, it just bubbled in, it's unbelievable. "Every light fitting, the water had seeped in so God knows what the roof looks like." Ms Robb said the storm was very noisy with branches coming off trees and banging into the building. "It was pretty wild. At least we're alive. These things are sent to try us." Ms Robb said the roadhouse dongas appeared to be all still standing but they would not be able to assess the full damage until daylight. She said she didn't plan to stay around for the next cyclone.
The cyclone is tracking at about 30km/h and is weakening. It is expected to reach Kalgoorlie about midday. Ms Bryant said communities impacted by Lua had been lucky, but the emergency wasn't over yet. "I believe with the category 4 and with the winds that it had when it crossed the coast, yes, we've been extremely lucky not to have sustained quite a bit of damage in some of those areas," she said.
Cyclone and flood warnings remain in place for large parts of the region, extending into the Gascoyne, Midwest and the northern Goldfields. Meanwhile, a cyclone warning has been issued for far north Queensland, with winds expected to reach up to 170km/h today. The Bureau of Meteorology said a tropical low currently centred on Cape York Peninsula is expected to travel westward today, where it may develop into a cyclone tonight.
The bureau released a cyclone warning for coastal and island communities from the border of Queensland and Northern Territory to Cape Keerweer on the Gulf of Carpentaria. Further west, a cyclone watch has been issued for the Northern Territory side of the Gulf, from Port Macarthur to the border, including the town of Borroloola. Heavy gales are expected across the area, and the bureau has also warned of heavy rainfalls and abnormally high tides.
SES Volunteers recieve extensive training to cope with emergency situations generated by cyclone events such as this. The training consits of but not limited to:
- Provision of emergency operations centre
- Support of emergency operations centre
- Collection of operational information
- Dissemination of warnings
- Dissemination of public information
- Provision of communications
- Evacuation management
- First aid
- Rescue from structures
- Mitigate structural damage
- Provision of power / light
- Field catering
- Coordination of resources
- Conduct of structural rescue
- Tree lopping / felling