SES crews work through Christmas to repair Sydney’s hail-damaged homes


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Liverpool Council CEO Kiersten Fishburn said witnessing the dedication of SES volunteers was “awe inspiring”.

“Just before Christmas, the timing could not have been worse for this storm,” she said. “But these good people are putting themselves last and our community first.”

SES volunteers from as far afield as Leeton in the Riverina and Kiama on the South Coast have joined the effort.

In Berowra, a host of community members have also put up their hands to support the SES volunteers in recent days, an effort that SES spokesman Andrew McCullough said had not typically been seen in Sydney before.

“Berowra community members have come down in force over the last few days to help fill sandbags, door-knocking, checking on residents, doing welfare checks, delivering equipment, picking up lunches, all that sort of stuff.

Community members lend a hand to SES crews at Berowra.

Community members lend a hand to SES crews at Berowra. Credit:NSW SES Hornsby unit

These good people are putting themselves last and our community first.

Liverpool Council CEO Kiersten Fishburn

People have spontaneously “just come down, got a hi-vis vest, brought the kids down, and had a great time” which Mr McCullough said has “allowed our volunteers and the fire brigade and fire service to focus on the more skilled and challenging jobs.”

A spokesman for the SES said that while 93 per cent of jobs that had been reported have been attended to, residents are still phoning in with issues.

In the past 24 hours, he said on Tuesday afternoon, 99 new jobs had been logged relating to the hail storm.

That was likely in part due to the backlog of calls that initially went unanswered during the storm when the centre was “inundated with more calls than we could take at any one time within 20 minutes”.

Some people also might have taken a number of days to realise their homes had been damaged, he said.

Mr McCullough said he hoped to see the same community spirit that had boosted SES volunteers in Berowra in the lead-up to Christmas continue over coming days, as roof repairs continue through heatwave conditions.

Every day for the next week is forecasted to reach the mid-to-late 30s in both Liverpool and Hornsby.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the number of outstanding jobs stands at 377. The SES hopes to have them seen to within the next three or four days.

“A lot of the houses are quite complex so two storey houses, large roofs, significant damage in the Berowra and Liverpool areas, and that just requires a lot of work,” Mr McCullough said.

While the forecast clear weather “allows us to take a break from storms and rain”, he said, “working in the hot weather on a roof is certainly not fun.”

“We’ve just got to manage fatigue and manage the safety issues with that,” he said.

Liverpool SES spokesman Anthony Carroll said his team is expecting more jobs to roll in over the next couple of weeks, and asked that people are patient while they work through them.

“It is important that people contact their insurance company and call SES to cancel your request for assistance if you no longer require help,” he added.

Jenny Noyes is a journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald. She was previously a writer and editor at Daily Life.

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