The Shire thanks all those who attended the Community Information Session yesterday afternoon. After such a huge week it was great that you could take time out of your day!

For those of you who would like to review the information that was shared or you were not able to attend and would like to find out what was discussed, please check out some of the information from the session below.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD)

Mr Ralph Addis – Director General of DPIRD attended and provided an update on what his agency is doing to assist primary producers in their recovery. Assessments are currently being conducted to determine the scale of issues and identify priority needs to target any assistance. Mr Addis advised that assistance is being considered in terms of freight, repairing and replacing boundary fences, counselling services and financial assistance. Please see below for useful links and information sheets:

Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements – information is available here https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/emergency-response/disaster-recovery-funding-arrangements, to apply for funding follow this link.

Blazeaid – is a volunteer-based organisation that works with people in rural areas to rebuild fences and other structures following a disaster. Please complete the attached Blazeaid Form TC Seroja and return it to the Shire, or come in to the Shire office or CRC and collect a printed copy.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES)

Mr Stephen Summerton – Incident Control Manager and a number of Community Liaison Officers from DFES attended to update the community on their activities in Mingenew and the broader region. DFES are responsible for managing the various rescue teams including SES and Fire & Rescue.

If anyone has not yet made contact to report significant damage to their home or other infrastructure that poses a safety risk please contact SES on 132 500. Further information about the services SES provide can be found here https://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/contactus/Pages/whentocalltheses.aspx. It was noted that SES generally do not assist with clearing debris or organising permanent or minor repairs; other volunteer services are available to help.

The Mingenew CRC is providing a matching service for community members requiring assistance with volunteers and service providers that can help. If you have skills or equipment available to lend a hand or you have jobs around your property as a result of the cyclone that you need assistance with e.g. clearing debris, mending fences etc. please contact the CRC on 9928 1264 to register your interest.

Services Australia manage a number of grants available for disaster relief – you can contact them on 180 2266 or they have an access point available at the Mingenew CRC.

DFES has a policy and program in place for addressing asbestos handling and disposal. Contractors are being brought in to ensure any asbestos that may be a hazard is stabilised and will implement removal programs as contractors become available. DFES have information available for community members that may have concerns regarding asbestos on their property.

Click here to view  a list of Contractors licenced to perform asbestos work in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996, supplied by DFES.

Western Power

Field Operations Leader – John Simpson advised that Western Power is doing everything they can to return the network to be fully operational. Now that power has been returned to townsites (with only isolated cases where this has not occured), Western Power is working through clearing any hazards as a priority. The challenges have been that the affected area stretches 700 km by 150 km across the Midwest / Wheatbelt. Three teams are currently working in the Mingenew area as well as a helicopter to conduct visual inspections over rural areas. Relevant community information is summarised below:

  • During events such this we don’t inspect properties prior to re-energising the connection point to the customer. We ask customers to call Western Power on 13 13 51 if their power doesn’t automatically reconnect, or if they experience unusual electrical performance such as a shock or tingle.
  • Where properties have been damaged, we recommend that customers engage a licensed electrical contractor to check the integrity of the electrical installation at their property.
  • After any work is completed by a licensed electrical contractor, the work may be inspected by the WA Electrical Inspectors where it’s identified as a notifiable incident (e.g. shock or tingle) or on a sample basis for other electrical work. The WA Electrical Inspectors perform a statutory function on behalf of Government to undertake these inspections.
  • When property owners return to their homes, they need to look for a tag or notification on the status of their electricity supply.
    • If there is a tag that says `Temporary disconnection’ the property owner or other person in charge must arrange for a private electrical contractor to complete the required works. Once all defects outlined on the tag have been rectified by the electrician, your supply can be reconnected.
    • If there is a tag that says `Information / Caution’, your connection can be reconnected to the network when power’s been restored. Once connected, you can flick your main switch to ‘On’.
  • If you’re unsure what electrical infrastructure you’re responsible for on your property, visit the Building and Energy website’s ‘Private power poles and lines are your responsibility’ and also on our website
  • If you’re unsure whether your property has been inspected by a WA Electrical Inspector, please call 13 10 87 between 8.30am-5.00pm.
  • For extra precaution, when `network power’ has been restored, the advice from the Electrical Inspectors is that you conduct a visual safety check on all external electrical equipment (bore pumps, power points, external ground lighting) within your property prior to turning on. If you find any damaged electrical equipment you must contact an electrical contractor to have the problem rectified.
  • Power fluctuations may occur when power is restored, so it’s helpful to unplug sensitive appliances prior to reconnecting. When reconnected, turn on appliances progressively, starting with lights and small appliances. If you experience any shocks, zaps or tingles report them immediately on 13 13 51.
  • Before you connect a generator to your home you need to ensure it is safe to do so (as there can be a back flow of power into the network if the right equipment or process is not followed – this could cause injury to you or our workers), contact your local electrical contractor or Building and Energy  on 1300 489 099 to find out more.
  • We understand that farmers’ properties and seeding activities have been affected by damaged electricity infrastructure, like poles down in paddocks. We’re working to minimize any impacts to properties. Where we can we’re reprioritising work to wait for paddocks to dry out.
  • From a safety perspective, we’re reiterating to all customers: please stay 8 metres away from any downed poles or wires on your property. Interfering with our assets is not only dangerous, but can potentially delay our ability to restore power to affected areas. Farmers can call 13 10 87 to contact us about land access.
  • We understand the frustration and know this is an important time on the farming calendar – but safety is our priority.

The Extended Outage Payment of $80 provided by Western Power has been doubled (to $160) for those affected by Tropical Cyclone Seroja. A claim can be made online by following this link https://www.westernpower.com.au/faults-outages/make-a-claim/extended-outage/. If you do not have access to a computer or the internet, the CRC or Shire have computers and staff that can assist. Note – you will require a copy of a recent Synergy bill for the affected property and your bank details (for the payment to be deposited into).

Western Power are also waiving fees related to network connections and reconnections for residents whose properties were impacted. For residents whose property has been destroyed, they are also waiving the cost of establishing a temporary builder supply (if required), which can be up to $555. Where property or network connections have been damaged but not destroyed reconnecting existing customers’ points and replacing meters will be free of charge as per normal practice.

Department of Communities

Matti Vitala outlined that the Department has a number of financial assistance programs available to those who have been displaced from their homes or been affected by the disaster. The Department is working with the Red Cross and other agencies to provide short-term accommodation options. The Shire has been maintaining a register of those whose homes have been damaged and not liveable – there are currently 23 adults and 4 children within the Shire of Mingenew that are displaced from their homes. Short term accommodation has been arranged for those affected. The Shire is lobbying the State Government to clarify medium to long term options and will keep the community informed. See http://www.dcp.wa.gov.au/CrisisAndEmergency/Pages/EmergencyServices.aspx for further information on the Department’s role or call the Disaster Response Hotline on 1800 032 965.

The Department of Communities is currently providing financial assistance of $200 per person  (including children) up to $800 per household.

Centrelink are also offering a payment of up to $1,000 per person 16 years old and over. Melissa Price’s office shares further information on federal support options here https://www.disasterassist.gov.au/Pages/disasters/current-disasters/Western-Australia/cyclone-seroja-11-12-april-2021.aspx.

Emotional assistance and first aid is available from a number of providers. It is important during this time that everyone looks out for each other – if you notice that someone might be struggling or they may be vulnerable please reach out to them. If you are frther concerned you cna have a confidential

The Lord Mayor Disaster Relief Fund will be available to assist individuals and information will be available soon regarding how people can access support. 100% of all donations go directly to those in need. If anyone would like to donate to the appeal or would like to find out more visit https://appealswa.org.au/.

Insurance Council Australia

Nick Weesener outlined that the Insurance Council Australia is the body responsible for managing industry response to a disaster. Insurers responding to those affected by TC Seroja will be prioritising claims and queries. Residents are encouraged to make contact with their insurers as soon as possible to assist in expediting the process. If people are able to take as many photos as possible to support their claims that is ideal. If infrastructure has been moved/removed before photos are taken, claims are not necessarily at risk and often other forms of evidence can be used. Food spoilage is often covered under contents insurance but you may need to check your policy or speak with your insurance company regarding excess fees. Reimbursement for fuel to operate generators might be considered; again clarification should be sought for individual policy holders.

If anyone experiences any difficulties with insurance claims please contact the Insurance Council’s dedicated hotline on 1800 734 621 or visit their website https://www.insurancecouncil.com.au/.

Water Corporation

Although representatives from the Water Corp were unable to attend yesterday’s meeting, they have provided the following information to share with the community:

Power outages and wind damage is impacting non-potable water supply in the Mingenew area. Water Corporation can advise we have now sourced and installed temporary generators at most sites and commenced pumping water. We estimate water will be available to most properties within 5-7 days unless there is further unknown damage to the network. Properties north of Devils Creek Rd may not receive water for more than one week. Emergency water for stock is available for collection from a number of locations:

  • The water tank located on Woongoondy-Tardun Rd, approx 7.5km west of the Wubin-Mullewa Rd intersection, or 1.3km west of the Dank Rd (track) intersection, Tardun (3 inch camlock fitting)
  • The water tank located near intersection of Ardingly Rd South & Eves Rd, Woondoondy (3 inch camlock fitting) – please note the bore to this tank is saline, so it may not be suitable for some uses
  • City of Greater Geraldton standpipes along Geraldton-Mount Magnet Rd, including the standpipe at the corner of Ardingly Rd and Geraldton-Mount Magnet Rd, please drop into the City office in Mullewa first to pick up a swipe card to access these
  • Shire standpipe in Three Springs, please drop into the Shire office first to pick up a swipe card to access the standpipe.

We request that any damaged infrastructure is reported to Water Corporation on 13 13 75. Thank you for your patience and understanding.”

Water Corp – Community Assistance Flyer

Other matters raised

  • CBH Mingenew have short term accommodation options available for those in need. Please contact the Shire if you have available accommodation or you require accommodation due to your home not being habitable.
  • for those who will need to rebuild, owners/builders will still need to go through the development and building approval process however, the Shire will endeavour to ensure the process can be undertaken as quickly as possible (these process ensure that the proposed development is safe and in keeping with regulatory requirements and is therefore essential for future insurance and safety).
  • It was clarified that the SOS function available on mobile phones only allows calls to ‘000’ or ‘012’ (mobile emergency number) – it cannot be used for other “emergency” calls.
  • The Shire is coordinating with scrap metal collectors who may be able to assist residents with removal of metal items from properties. Further information will be shared in the next week. The Shire is also assessing options to make a dedicated space available at the tip. It was noted that tin is not recyclable.
  • Winter sports facilities will most certainly be ready for the coming season. Due to some damage sustained, mainly at the Hockey Oval, work will be undertaken to make the areas safe. Please ensure children adhere to safety signage in the area.
  • The Shire is working to clear the remaining tree branches and debris from town streets over the next week. Please ensure you move all items to the verge, separating out metal, green waste, asbestos* etc. for ease of collection. Again if anyone requires assistance on their property, register your interest at the Mingenew CRC and they will help to locate volunteers to give you a hand.

*Please read this flyer if you believe you may have property that contains asbestos requiring removal as your safety and the community’s is paramount. You are best to leave to a professional if you are unsure (and this should be covered by insurance).

The Shire is more than happy to provide assistance or refer you to the right agency should you have any needs or queries. Please call us on 9928 1102 or email enquiries@mingenew.wa.gov.au.

Meeting Minutes:

You can download a copy of the meeting minutes prepared by DFES (differs from the above) here.

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