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Major Recovery Package Announced After Cyclone Hit Western Australia

More than $76 million has been pledged to help West Australia which suffered severe damage from Tropical Cyclone Seroja.

PERTH, Australia — West Australians affected by Tropical Cyclone Seroja will receive further help under a record AU$104.5 million ($76.88 million) disaster recovery package.

The joint state and federal funding will be spread across 16 local government areas in the state’s Mid West, Gascoyne, and Wheatbelt regions.

Clean-up efforts continue three months after Seroja made landfall as a category three storm with winds up to 170 kilometers per hour (105.6 miles per hour).

More than 875 buildings received some form of damage, and 32 were destroyed, including 23 homes.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the federal government will stand with affected communities during the long rebuild.

“These communities will continue to get the support they need. That’s the commitment we’re making today with this more than AU$100 million ($73.57 million) investment to help them build back stronger than ever before,” he said in a statement.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison (centre) addresses emergency personal during a tour of the cyclone affected township of Kalbarri, WA, April 2021. Kalbarri suffered widespread damage in the wake of ex-tropical cyclone Seroja, which tore across the midwest coast of Western Australia. (Pool, Justin Benson-Cooper/AAP Image)

Premier of Western Australia Mark McGowan said his government would continue to work closely with affected individuals and businesses.

“I would like to assure those impacted by this disaster that the state government will see these efforts through for as long as it takes,” he said.

The package includes financial support for restoring damaged communities, recreational and cultural heritage assets, and grants to help residents, primary producers, and small businesses with clean-up and repairs.

Funding is also provided for a community welfare and outreach program. It is being touted as the most significant disaster recovery package in West Australian history.

Seroja intensified due to warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures influenced by La Niña conditions, as per the National Aeronautics and Space Administration report. Winds kept Seroja away from the coast and the weakened effects of land, allowing the cyclone to sustain relatively high intensity.

Authorities believe the overall impact of the cyclone could take up to two years to repair and cost upwards of AU$200 million ($147.14 million).

Volunteers from the State Emergency ServicesDepartment of Fire and Emergency Services personnel, and Australian Defence Force reservists led the initial clean-up efforts.

Some homes remained without power for months, with Western Power describing the overall repair job as the biggest it had undertaken. Western Power is a statutory corporation established by the Electricity Corporations Act 2005. It is owned by the State Government of Western Australia and is accountable to the Minister for Energy.

Caravans were dispatched last week to the shires of Northampton, Morawa, and Chapman Valley to provide temporary accommodation for people whose homes were severely damaged.

McGowan this week urged insurers to process claims quickly amid suggestions many residents, farmers, and businesses were facing long delays.

The state government has previously announced electricity and water relief for people in the impacted area, spanning 700 kilometers (435 miles) long and 150 kilometers (93.2 miles) wide.

Edited by Saptak Datta and Ritaban Misra