Post-storm struggle continues

Thousands of homes along the NSW coast remain without power more than a week after a series of strong storms, with insurance losses currently estimated at $244 million.

As of Monday, almost 35,000 claims have been received, mostly for home and contents policies, although many businesses throughout the Illawarra, Sydney and Hunter regions have also been affected.

Power losses hit more than 160,000 homes and a few thousand remain without power.

Adam Hines, of Newcastle’s Aether Insurance Brokers, says the ongoing power and telecommunications problems were the biggest concern.

“Getting power, a decent phone line or internet access is a real struggle in some areas, especially for business,” he says.

“You drive around Newcastle and the upper Hunter at the moment, where you can get around, and houses are completely devastated. Businesses are struggling to do what they can but the ones that have no power are closed,” says Hines.

Recovery efforts have also been hindered by an inability to access areas due to high water levels and blocked roads.

Arthur J Gallagher Newcastle Branch Manager Mark Bramley says: “As it stands we’ve got a large number of communities that are still isolated, that you can’t get access to via roads, and even boats now because the water levels have lowered.”

Meanwhile, Club Marine reports that it has already completed 55 salvage operations and processed 237 related claims.

Club Marine National Assessing Manager Darryl Humphreys recommended that brokers with clients who own boats in the area to check their moorings.

“Due to the extreme wave action during the storm, boat’s lines were under duress for an extended period of time,” Humphreys says.

“As a priority, we recommend boat owners check all lines and test the integrity of cleats, fairleads, winches, and all tie-up points that are under load as soon as possible.

“Even though their vessel has not broken away from its mooring lines, these could be frayed and close to failing.”

NSW Premier Mike Baird has announced the appointment of Brigadier Darren Naumann to the position of Regional Recovery Coordinator for the Hunter and Central Coast areas.

Naumann will be responsible for taking the lead in storm recovery on a regional level. Baird commends recovery efforts thus far, saying: “The recovery work of the State Emergency Service and other agencies since the ravaging storms that gripped the eastern parts of our State last week has been outstanding.

“But there are still communities under severe duress, and I want to make sure that the recovery effort is as coordinated and effective as possible.”