THE Minister for Emergency Services Steve Whan, and Minister for Community Services Linda Burney today thanked members of emergency and welfare services for their efforts in responding to the tornado that devastated parts of the Northern Rivers town of Lennox Head yesterday.

Mr Whan praised the prompt and professional response of the emergency services to the disaster.

“Within hours of the tornado, more than 60 emergency services personnel, were working to undertake temporary repairs to damaged property, attending to the injured, assessing the damage and clearing away debris and fallen trees.

“Support was also provided by Ballina Shire Council staff and Country Energy crews, who have worked hard to restore power.”

Ms Burney said Community Services would remain on-hand to help residents as the clean-up effort gets underway.

"With more than 100 people registering at the evacuation centre, with a number requiring temporary accommodation, I would like to thank those welfare organisations – the Red Cross, ADRA, Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul and Anglicare – and all their volunteers who worked with Community Services to provide assistance for those people displaced by the disaster,” she said.

“Once the bad weather abates, Community Services disaster welfare staff will continue to work with residents and provide assistance to eligible families.

“Low income earners without insurance may qualify for grants towards essential household items and structural repairs for their primary place of residence.”

Mr Whan said poor weather in other parts of the state was expected this afternoon and evening and residents in areas covered by severe weather warnings should remain vigilant.

“The SES has now responded to some 300 calls for help over the past two days, with SES volunteers and staff remaining on high alert for potential flooding and rain and wind damage on the coast between Sydney and the Mid-North Coast.

"People can support our emergency services at these times by ensuring that their properties and businesses are prepared for severe weather, and by not driving, riding or walking through floodwater.”

Tornado-affected residents whose homes have been damaged can call the Community Services Disaster Welfare Services on 1800 018 444 or visit www.community.nsw.gov.au to find out if they are eligible for financial assistance.



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