Former Tropical Cyclone Damien has been downgraded to a tropical low after the storm — which brought destructive winds and torrential rainfall to Western Australian’s north — weakened to below cyclone intensity
- Former tropical cyclone Damien has weakened below cyclone intensity
- The system is still producing heavy rainfall over the Gascoyne region
- The cyclone brought winds of up to 195 kilometres per hour
In their latest advice at 5:00am AWST on Monday, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said ex-Tropical Cyclone Damien was continuing to move southwards and was over the north-east Gascoyne.
All communities, including Tom Price to Nullagine and Marble Bar have now been given the all-clear.
The system is still producing heavy rainfall over the north-east Gascoyne, with conditions expected to moving into the south-east Gascoyne and northern Goldfields by the afternoon.
Strong and squally winds are also possible and there is still the risk of flooding in coming days.
The storm crossed over the coast as a category three system about 3:30pm on Saturday, bringing severe, destructive winds, torrential rainfall and storm surges.
A Karratha man says he was forced to shelter under his kitchen table with his cat while it peeled the roof off his house as it tore through Western Australia’s Pilbara region on Saturday night.
Karratha resident Beau Corps, who has lived in the town since 1985, was forced to crawl under a table with his cat, called Gary, as the storm hit.
“There was a big crash and I could see, through the vents in the roof, the light coming through and I realised my roof had peeled off,” Mr Corps said.
“I grabbed the cat and went to run outside but it was really, really strong obviously and I knew the tree was blocking a hole, a gap in the fence to my brother’s house.
“We were hunkered under the table. My brother rang and just asked where I was and I told him I was under the table. He said ‘just stay there’.”
Mr Corps said he ended up sheltering at his other brother’s house, who had phoned and told him it was safe to run across.
Fridge among debris caught on camera
Renae Moss and Ryley Hinchcliffe filmed a fridge surfing down a street in the Karratha suburb of Nickol.
Ms Moss said she tried to warn authorities for days about the empty public housing home next door as preparations were made in the lead-up to Cyclone Damien.
But she said nothing was done about the large items lying in the yard.
A spokesman for the Housing Authority said the property had been recently vacated.
“The Department attempted to schedule works however, due to the short time frame, this was unable to be completed ahead of the cyclone,” the statement said.
“The property will be assessed for damage as soon as it is safe to do so, as will be the case for all reports of cyclone damage to our properties.”
‘Our house was shaking like a leaf’
Stuart Otto, who has lived in Karratha for more than three decades, said the “horrendous” cyclone was the worst he had experienced.
“My house is 50 years old and at the end of the day, it held up well,” Mr Otto said.
“My brother lives four doors down and he’s got a brick house, but his verandah out the back is absolutely decimated (with) three fences down, I haven’t seen a direct hit like this before.
“Right up to the eye it was bad, and then you go okay, she’ll be fine dropping off the other side, but after the eye it was worse.
“Our house was shaking like a leaf.”
Cyclone downgraded but caution urged
The BOM said the system had weakened as it moved inland, and by 9:00am AWST on Sunday had been downgraded to a category one system.
Karratha was given the all-clear about 11:20am on Sunday.
Mr Blackshaw said the DFES had received more than 100 calls for assistance, but he expected that figure to “increase significantly”.
Most requests for help through St John Ambulance were dealt with “relatively quickly” and no significant calls were made overnight on Saturday.
Cyclone Damien moves inland
Karratha recorded 235.2mm of rain by 9:00am Sunday, while Roebourne saw 234.8mm.
DFES incident controller Mr Blackshaw warned flooding would be the next big risk to the Pilbara and he reminded people not to drive onto flooded roads.
Power outage hits thousands
About 10,000 customers were affected by power outages on Saturday night and some suffered intermittent phone reception issues.
The water level is rising at Paraburdoo, a mining town about 390 kilometres inland form the coast, and south of Karratha where the cyclone is heading. (Supplied: Peter Tooby and Charity Schoen)
Horizon Power spokeswoman Michelle South said crews had successfully restored power to a number of Karratha suburbs on Sunday morning.
“Network patrols will continue in daylight hours to assess further damage and restore power to any remaining areas,” she said.
“The process of complete restoration and repairs will likely take some time and we thank customers for their patience and understanding as we work through this process.”
The loss of power also caused issues with the wastewater network in Karratha, Wickham and Roebourne.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said problems caused by flooding were still to play out.
“When the rainfall’s quite close to the coast, the water gets out to sea quite quickly so you don’t have a flooding issue,” he said.
“It’s more the rainfall that falls further inland that can cause issues and that will play out over the next day or so.
“A lot of it is damage to trees and the like and then the damage of that, those trees onto structures, I will say it’s early days yet in terms of exactly what the extent of the damage is, but certainly vegetation impacting sheds and houses and the like is where we’re at right now.”
BOM forecaster Neil Bennett said the area would not have experienced such severe winds since 1989.
“For many people in Karratha, even though they’re long-term residents there, this will be the first time they’ve lived through a direct hit with a severe tropical cyclone, and I think it’s a sobering experience for many of them.”