Western Power crews at work in the hills. Picture: Andrew Williams

Hills and Wheatbelt in havoc after thunderstorm

Thousands of residents across the Wheatbelt and the hills have been left without power after a severe storm left a trail of destruction throughout the hills and beyond.
January 18, 2024
Peter W Lewis & Gera Kazakov

EXTENSIVE storm damage has been blamed for delays in Western Powers restoration works across the hills and Wheatbelt.

The storm hit Tuesday afternoon, leaving 34,000 residents and businesses without power during the peak of the outage, according to Western Power.

By Wednesday evening, 16,000 homes and businesses were still powerless despite the hard work of Western Power crews who worked all through the night.

Western Power acting chief executive officer Jacqui Hall said crews were working as fast as they could to restore power within safety precautions, and as of Wednesday evening Western Power said full restoration would take a number of days.

“The dangerous storm conditions caused multiple faults across a large area of the network, with hundreds of hazards including numerous damaged poles and wires down from the Wheatbelt to the Perth Hills area,” she said.

“We have also been working to repair damage elsewhere on the network with customers impacted by fire and lightning strikes without power from incidents over previous days.

“We are focusing our recovery on critical infrastructure first and then the customers who are most impacted.”

Ms Hall said there are more than a 1000 damaged poles, over hundreds of kilometres of conductor damaged alongside seven transmission lines also being out of service.

Within the City of Kalamunda, Tuesday’s storm left the Kalamunda library and visitor centre without power.

Kalamunda Waterpark was also closed during periods of lightning on Tuesday.

The storm impacted various locations across the Shire of Mundaring, one of the worst hit areas in the Perth Metropolitan area.

Shire President Paige McNeil said the biggest concern was debris on the roads, and asked residents to take care when travelling on roads.

“Shire staff have been working hard to clear the debris on roads, but non-essential debris clean up from verges may take weeks,” Ms McNeil said.

She said given the hot conditions, power outages, and lack of air-conditioning, it was a good reminder to look out for your neighbours – particularly if they were elderly.

The Coppin Road community recycling centre will be open for normal hours Thursday to Sunday and will also be accepting green waste on Thursday and Friday, while the Mathieson Road transfer station will be open for normal opening hours.

Ms McNeil said some roads were still closed due to fallen trees and power lines, and asked residents to refer to Western Power website for more information.

She said the shire had focused its works and services resources into the clean-up as a matter of priority.

“With the widespread outage of telecommunications this week, it highlights the importance of our need for action by the federal government of backup generators,” she said.

Parts of the City of Swan were also impacted by the severe thunderstorm with the most affected suburb being Gidgegannup, where extreme winds blew trees onto local roads and residents have been experiencing power outages.

“Swan SES received five calls for assistance locally, with one property in Bullsbrook reporting significant damage. They have also been busy helping storm-affected residents in the shires of Chittering and Mundaring,” City of Swan deputy mayor Ian Johnson said.

“The city received several direct reports of trees and debris requiring removal and city staff have been cleaning up local roads and verges.”

Meanwhile, Shire of York chief executive officer Chris Linnell said there were several trees down on roads and within parks throughout the shire, including lots of debris on the Great Southern Highway.

“Shire crews have been focusing on safety issues first and will continue working on the removal and clean-up of vegetation once completed,” Mr Linnell said.

He said there had been no significant damage to shire assets that had been found at this stage.

“There were also a number of small lightning strikes that caused some isolated fires throughout the shire which have been contained,” he said.

York residents lost power from 1.45pm Tuesday, January 16 with all businesses closed, including the IGA and hotels, from that time.

“This had had significant impacts on businesses, including the shire.”

York continued to be without power until after lunchtime on Wednesday, January 17 when Western Power commenced restoring power to businesses and residents.

Western Power offers a $120 service standard payment for outages lasting more than 12 hours and payment of successful claims will be made within 30 days to nominated bank accounts.

To make a claim click here.

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