Ballarat's wild storm: damage bill unknown

PHOTOS: Ballarat's Wild Storm

SEBASTOPOL Primary School will be closed for two weeks as it continues to assess the extensive damage and undertake repairs after Friday’s hailstorm.

The 127 pupils will be accommodated by other schools from today but will remain in their classroom groups with their teachers.

Department of Education Grampians Region assistant regional director Peter Henry said the extent of the damage was the worst he had seen outside of a major flood.

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“So far our assessments have included replacing a significant amount of carpet and we’re looking at this stage to remove the roof sections over several classrooms to assess internal damage.

“I expect the replacement works will extend until the end of the next week and we’ll have occupation for the last week of term.”

It was one of at least 155 properties across Ballarat damaged by the severe storm that produced horizontal hail, destroyed trees, collapsed roofs and flooded houses. A City of Ballarat spokesperson said the total damage bill would not be known for some days.

“It’s about getting out to all the properties at the moment that have reported damage and we’ll have a much better idea of the scope of it later this week,” he said.

“We had 32 staff over the weekend just doing inspections.

“We’ll have crews up for the rest of the week picking up green debris from homes. We’re encouraging people to put green debris neatly and safely out the front of their homes.”

Along with Mount Clear, Mount Helen, Buninyong and Sebastopol, areas worst hit by the storm include Delacombe, Magpie and Bunkers Hill.

Damaged council assets include Sebastopol Library, Marty Busch Reserve and numerous parks and gardens. 

Property owners are also still counting the costs of the ferocious storm. Scotchmans Lead resident Rob Watson said every tree in the area was bent at right angles, while a shed had disintegrated, sending metal sheets 300 metres through the air into some pine trees on his fenceline.

He estimated the damage bill to his property could be $20,000.

“Two roller doors which were facing north were flipping around like curtains,” he said.

The storm also caused trouble for pets. RSPCA Ballarat shelter acting supervisor Hayley Aisbett said they had 19 lost dogs in two days.

“Frightened by the storm, they jump over or push through a fence and just take off,” she said.