02/01/2012 - Corrigin hit by storm

A freak storm has hit the Wheatbelt town of Corrigin, ripping roofs off buildings and leaving more than 500 residents without power.  Western Power is working on restoring electricity to the town and surrounds, which is situated about 250km south-east of Perth.  State Emergency Service volunteers are still working at three properties.

The destructive winds flattened fences, uprooted trees, ripped the roofs off several buildings in the town and on nearby farms. The 90-year-old Corrigin Hotel on Walton Street has had part of its roof torn off. The Corrigin Primary School was also damaged.  Locals told ABC Radio this morning that the storm's peak hit about 6pm yesterday with very high winds. Dust storms were also reported.

Corrigin Pharmacy worker Youshan Eaw was stuck driving in the storm.  It started off last night about 4.30 when it started raining and I thought it was a bit strange and then it started raining heavily and hail was falling,the pharmacist said. As I was driving there were some trees down and houses without roofs and then the power went out.  It all happened really fast.

I’ve seen a few buildings without roofs and with orange plastic on top - everything is just really scattered. Ms Eaw said it seemed as though everyone was without electricity. She said the local IGA supermarket had its own generator so it was still operating.  She said that most of the roads had been cleared but that there were still lots of trees on paths.  According to Weather Bureau the storm was "an isolated incident".

A spokesman said such a storm was unusual for this time of the year.  He said there was little data from from the area, however wind gusts of 85km/h were recorded. There was no rain in the guage.  Farmer Frank said this morning that he had lost roof off a cottage and several sheds.

He said corrugated iron from one she was hurled more than 100 metres by the winds.  Massive gum trees snapped like carrots...there are trees down everywhere, it's quite unbelievable," he said.