Marine Rescue Tower shakes, rattles and rolls

STORM FRIGHT: Marine Rescue Ballina volunteer John Donoghue and commander Norm Lannoy at the organisation’s tower at North Wall.
STORM FRIGHT: Marine Rescue Ballina volunteer John Donoghue and commander Norm Lannoy at the organisation’s tower at North Wall. Rebecca Lollback

WHEN winds peaked at 160km/h in Ballina during the storm on Friday, the Marine Rescue tower at North Wall copped the brunt of the extreme weather.

It was a scary time for volunteer John Donoghue, who was on duty in the tower.

He said it was one of the most frightening experiences of his life.

"I have been through a lot of things, but this has really hit me hard," he said.

"I could feel that the tower was actually shaking.

"The wind was so intense ... even being up here now is making me feel nervous."

The tower - which is already on a lean - was evacuated on Friday and remained closed over the weekend.

Shifts re-started at midday yesterday, but Marine Rescue Ballina commander Norm Lannoy said they were still concerned about the state of the building.

As a result of the storm there has been major damage to the tower's roof, aerials, cables, frames and brackets.

Mr Lannoy said repairs could cost more than $10,000.

At this stage it is not certain whether that would be covered under Marine Rescue's insurance or Ballina Shire Council's insurance.

"We are a little bit concerned that the tower might not be safe," he said.

"We're waiting for council engineers to come and inspect the building in case it has moved more.

Meanwhile the storm clean up continued across the Northern Rivers yesterday.

Ballina Shire Council's civil services group manager, John Truman, said water services had not yet been restored to Pimlico and Uralba.

Insurance assessors were in the shire yesterday to inspect the damage.

In Byron Bay crews have been clearing roads and drains, lopping trees and erecting beach signage.

The council's executive manager of community infrastructure, Phil Holloway, said they had received more than 150 calls for assistance.

"Staff will be submitting a report to the NSW Ministry for Police and Emergency Services ... that the restoration works will cost about $1.1 million," he said.

"This includes tree removal, drainage works and damage to roads."

Work crews have been able to clear and open Coolamon Scenic Drive after a landslip.

But Possum Shoot Road remains closed after a landslip and a geotechnical inspection will be undertaken to find out the extent of the damage.

Beach accesses have also been affected, particularly in the north of the Byron Shire at South Golden, New Brighton and Brunswick Heads.

The Lennox Head Seven Mile Beach public 4WD track is closed until further notice.

WEATHER FORECAST

Lismore: Today - cloudy with showers, 25C; Tomorrow - shower or two, 26C.

Ballina: Today - Scattered showers, 26C; Tomorrow - Early fog and isolated showers, 27C.

Casino: Today - Showers and 26C; Tomorrow - Rain expected, 26C.



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