Twelve months on from Canberra’s largest hailstorm

Twelve months on from the disastrous hailstorm, the ACT Emergency Services Agency (ACTESA) is well prepared to respond during another challenging storm season.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman said the ferocious winds up to 117 kilometres accompanied by hail as big as golf balls caused major destruction and an influx of requests for help from ACT residents.

“January 2020 showcased the resilience of Canberrans and the effectiveness of our emergency services. After assisting our neighbouring states with bushfires and suffering through hazardous smoke and heat waves, Canberra was faced with its most severe hailstorm on record,” Minister Gentleman said.

“This demonstrates the need to move towards an all-hazards approach to emergency management, which our Emergency Services Agency is pioneering.

“The ACT State Emergency Service received more than 2500 requests for assistance, which is triple the average calls they generally receive in an entire season. This included reports of flooding, smashed windows, dented cars and fallen trees.

“The ACT Government has invested in additional volunteers, vehicles and training in the last 12 months to further enhance the our storm-response capabilities.”

ACT Government crews joined in the emergency response to assist in the clean-up, working around the clock to help make the city safe and make open spaces available for use as soon as possible.

Within 24 hours of the storm, major shopping centres, district parks, sportsgrounds, pathways, and drains were cleared of debris.

ACT Emergency Services Agency Commissioner Georgeina Whelan said the hailstorm, which occurred among significant fire activity last summer, showed the Agency was prepared to respond to all types of emergency.

“The versatility of ACTESA and it four services to oscillate from fire to storm and flood in a 24-hour period is a testament to our staff and volunteers,” Commissioner Whelan said.

“The response to the hailstorm was supported by other agencies across the ACT Government, as well as our cross-border colleagues from the NSW State Emergency Service.

“Since the January 2020 hailstorm, a La Nina weather pattern has seen significant rainfall in the ACT. Whilst the ACTSES is prepared to respond to storm and flood damage we ask that residents prepare their homes and properties for any emergency, all year round.

“Canberrans can be prepared for storms by completing or updating their emergency survival plan. Have the conversation with your family about what you will do during an emergency – including how you will stay informed, when you will leave and what you will take.”

The ACT Government’s Hail Assistance and Innovation Liaison (HAIL) Team also supported Canberra drivers impacted by the January hailstorm with rebates worth more than $507,000.

The program helped reduce the financial pressure for those impacted by the hailstorm, which damaged around 44,500 vehicles.

7,607 rebates were processed through the program, refunding fees and charges paid by Canberrans for key road transport transactions including inspecting damaged vehicles and registering replacement vehicles.

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