Bill from two storms hits $65m
By Jamie Brown
THE damage bill in the wake of recent storms on the Northern Rivers is expected to climb to more than $65 million this week.
The combined effect of the massive hailstorm two weeks ago and last week's tornado is stretching not only the region's rescue workers and residents, but insurance and the repair industries as well.
So far, more than 20,000 claims have been lodged, and with hundreds of new claims pouring in from Dunoon, it may be some time before people have their roofs and property repaired.
The Insurance Council of Australia says the approximate insured loss for the October 9 hailstorm is $60 million, with the bulk of damage to cars and trucks.
At Dunoon last Friday, more than 20 homes lost roofs and even before the cost had been fully counted, the damage bill had climbed to over $5 million.
Lismore insurance agent Michael Berry said the response to the past two storm tragedies has been 'massive', with insurance assessors brought into Lismore from all over Australia.
"All insurance companies are responding as quickly as they can," said the veteran of more than 20 years in the industry.
Mr Berry is also a resident of Dunoon and a volunteer with the local Rural Fire Brigade, so he understands the hardship experienced.
"I don't like to be critical of the process," he said. "I believe everybody is doing their best to process the mountain of claims and subsequent paperwork.
"Emergency tarps can only protect a home so much, and after a couple of weeks that protection weakens. They may keep out a shower, but not extended rain. And that all adds to people's frustration."
Mr Berry emphasised a lot of money is flooding into Lismore in the wake of the twin disasters.
"The region will see some significant economic benefits," he said. "Millions of dollars will be pumped into the city."
Mr Berry said local contractors had much to gain, despite the influx of out-of-town tradesmen.
However, the process would take time, he said. In the wake of the Casino storm of January 2001, roof repairs were still being carried out two years later.
Lismore Roof Tilers owner Phil Coronakes said waiting for local tradesmen, instead of rushing to sign with the first tradie who knocked on your door, could mean the difference between a good job and one which required ongoing repairs.