SES controller Melinda Mapstone says get ready for storms
INSPIRED by watching emergency services responding to storm damage and fuelled by the desire to help, Melinda Mapstone has been volunteering with the SES for 9-and-a-half years and has seen some pretty big storms.
She is now the Lismore City SES local controller and says the Lismore hailstorm in October 2007 and the tornado in Dunoon in October 2007 are two stand-outs.
"The hailstorm was on a scale I'd never seen before. There were over 600 calls for help and it went on for months," Ms Mapstone said.
"We were very tired; we were getting callbacks six months later because it was taking so long for claims to be assessed and for tradesmen to be available.
"The damage was overwhelming; there were hundreds of smashed windows, skylights and roofs."
The tornado in Dunoon was also dramatic.
"It pretty much ripped down the main street and tore down numerous trees and powerlines; in some cases homes were destroyed and entire roofs ripped off buildings," she said.
"Because there was a massive loss of power and communications, we door- knocked to make sure no one was injured, trapped or needed help.
"We then got in and began temporary repairs so homes were safe and liveable.
"There were houses we could do nothing for."
This paled in comparison to the effects of cyclone Yasi.
"That was very much an eye-opener, the amount of damage made the October hailstorm seem like a small event," says Ms Mapstone who flew to North Queensland to help out.
People don't often plan ahead when it comes to storm preparation but a little time spent in preparation can make a big difference.
"If you prepare your homes, gardens, listen to warnings and take precautions when advised, you can dramatically reduce the impact on your property from severe storms."