A natural disaster has been declared at Lismore in northern New South Wales following widespread damage caused by a severe hailstorm that swept the area yesterday afternoon.
Large hailstones caused significant damage to many cars, homes, businesses and public buildings in the city.
The declaration covers the Lismore City Council area and means the council will be reimbursed for the cost of repairing public infrastructure.
NSW Emergency Services Minister Nathan Rees has been touring the area and he says while it is too early to tell, the preliminary estimate he has had for the damage bill is $5 million and rising.
“I’ve spoken to people who have lived here for 70 years and they’re telling me that they’ve seen hail stones the size of softballs, there are windows boarded up every second house it seems, and there are also large chunks taken out of buildings – the damage has to be seen to be believed,” he said.
Mr Rees says it is lucky someone was not seriously injured in the storm and there will be a range of assistance for people affected.
“The SES volunteers and the SES officials are also saying ‘look this was very serious, you had hail stones that were sufficiently large to block downpipes and gutters’,” he said.
“Which when the water came in under roofs caused all sorts of damage to the inside of many buildings including churches.”