Mid West locals may be forced to leave towns: plea to premier over Cyclone Seroja recovery

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Liam BeattyGeraldton Guardian
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North West Central MP Vince Catania with State opposition leader Mia Davies.
Camera IconNorth West Central MP Vince Catania with State opposition leader Mia Davies. Credit: Supplied

WA Opposition Leader Mia Davies has called on the McGowan Government to “not forget” about Mid West communities devastated by cyclone Seroja more than two months ago.

During a visit to Kalbarri, Ms Davies said it was clear people were still struggling from the effects of the natural disaster and fears were beginning to creep in the rebuilding effort would stall.

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“There’s no shortage of challenges for the community,” she said.

“People are still struggling with homelessness, delays in insurance payouts and struggling businesses. They’re trying to stay optimistic but it’s really distressing.”

Ms Davies said residents had raised fears their communities were being forgotten by State leaders in Perth because they were “out of sight, out of mind”.

Opposition leader Mia Davies speaks with residents in Kalbarri.
Camera IconOpposition leader Mia Davies speaks with residents in Kalbarri. Credit: Supplied

Her comments come after Northampton Shire CEO Garry Keeffe raised fears residents were feeling abandoned and may be forced to leave their homes.

“Some of them down in Perth just don’t seem to care,” he said.

“It’s disgraceful there’s no urgency in helping these people.”

Touring Kalbarri with North West Central MP Vince Catania, Ms Davies said business owners and residents said their priorities were addressing the housing shortage and speeding up insurance payouts.

“People are really frustrated,” she said. “Insurers were quick to get out here and assess the damage bill but people are having trouble accessing their money which is delaying the rebuild.”

People are still struggling with homelessness, delays in insurance payouts and struggling businesses.

- WA Opposition Leader Mia Davies.

The insurance has bill for Seroja reached $112 million from more than 4000 claims, according to the Insurance Council of Australia, and the rebuild is expected to take two years.

About 70 per cent of Kalbarri’s buildings were damaged in the cyclone, leading to ongoing housing shortages.

“The inability to put people into houses is really causing a problem,” Ms Davies said.

“Tourists are flowing through the town, which is essential for businesses, but it’s creating an issue on where to house workers.”

She said WA had the ability to create temporary worker’s accommodation and questioned why this wasn’t being implemented.

“Everything that can be done to speed this up should be done,” she said.

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