Just 10 days after the severe Halloween Hailstorm swept through Ipswich, insurers had received 26,300 claims amounting to a whopping bill of $305 million at that stage.
While the Queensland Government would not officially declare the event as a disaster, the Insurance Council of Australia declared the severe weather event a catastrophe within 24 hours of the storm, which caused severe damage when it carved through the region on Saturday, 31 October.
Thousands of homes across the suburbs of Rosewood, Thagoona, Willowbank, Springfield and Springfield Lakes suffered extensive roof damage, many of which resulted in collapsed internal ceilings and major water damage to internal structures as well as home contents.
Hundreds of families had no choice but to leave their homes and there are still many unable to return.
Mayor Harding noted that impacted families are now relying on ongoing support from their community while insurance companies and tradespeople work to repair the damage.
“Many families are staying with friends, families, neighbours or in other temporary accommodation while they wait for repairs to start,” Mayor Harding said.
“I have written to the President of the Insurance Council of Australia Sue Houghton, and the Queensland Building and Construction Commissioner Brett Bassett, to highlight our community’s needs on the long road to recovery.
“We are only a couple of weeks away from Christmas and it is a difficult time for families who have had their lives turned upside down by the unprecedented hailstorm.”
During the storm aftermath there were over 2,100 SES calls for assistance with teams from all over Queensland, and as far away as South Australia, sending volunteers.
Energex also reported over 3,000 power outages during the storm and the QFES Fire and Rescue crew conducted almost 1,700 damage assessments in the Ipswich area.
A council-led Local Disaster Coordination Centre and Local Disaster Management Group was stood up lead a coordinated effort to assist residents.
Local Disaster Management Group Chair Mayor Teresa Harding and Deputy Chair Cr Kate Kunzelmann met daily with around 30 representatives from across government and non-government agencies.
Ipswich City Council established The Ipswich Hail Event community information page on Shape Your Ipswich page to provide advice and assistance for the thousands of Ipswich residents affected by the storm. The page has received 1,258 views.
Over 2,000 people are estimated to have been provided with support at the YMCA Springfield Community Centre, which opened on Sunday, 1 November as a drop-in support centre.
Representatives from insurance companies, Energex, Uniting Care financial advice, Lifeline, Department of Housing and Public Works, Ipswich City Council Community Development staff, and Community Recovery teams from Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors provided face-to-face support while local businesses like IGA, Domino’s, Tivoli Miracle Centre, Coles and many other local businesses donated food and supplies.
Disaster Recovery Funding was activated including Counter Disaster Operations, Essential Services Safety and Reconnection Scheme, Personal Hardship Assistance Scheme and Reconstruction of Essential Public Assets.
Council also offered kerbside collection of building waste, storm-damaged furniture and whitegoods as well as special food only waste bins.
Council is alert to the fact that a significant amount of excess construction and demolition waste would be heading to local landfills in the wake of the storm.
This includes hazardous items such as the thousands of solar PV panels that were damaged in the storm.
After adopting council’s Waste and Circular Economy Transformation Directive last week, Mayor Harding is urging industry and individuals to dispose of construction and demolition waste responsibly and to send material to recyclers, where possible.
Mayor Harding said while the initial stages of the recovery operation is behind us, there is still a long way to go and the recovery efforts were ongoing.
“My heart goes out to everyone who was affected but it has been comforting to see family, friends and strangers come together to make the load lighter,” Mayor Harding said.
“Our community has shown their resilience and were there to support and help those who needed it most.
“Despite the devastation, it has been great to see that the community spirit in Springfield and Springfield Lakes remains strong and council will continue to support recovery efforts.
Beware of scammers
Unfortunately, there have been reports of ‘disaster chasers’ attempting to take advantage of residents.
- An insurer will not send a tradesperson or builder to your home without notifying you and providing you with details
- Speak to your insurer before agreeing to any repairs or rebuilding work to make sure your insurer will cover it
- A tradesperson or builder who is working for your insurer will not ask you for money
- If in doubt, ask for identification such as a builder’s licence or driver’s licence, and ring your insurer to check
- If you sign a contract with a scammer, you have a statutory 10-day cooling-off period. Your insurer can help you end the relationship with the scammer