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Dural RFS crews have been very busy over December and January assisting those affected by the storms.
On Saturday, 15th December, the first storm struck whilst we were in the middle of our Santa Run in Dural. We had to shelter in the trucks while we were pelted with rain, small hail and swirling gale force winds.
Then it all stopped and the sun came out, Santa continued on his way, shifting fallen branches as he went before the next storm hit 20 minutes later with the ferocity of the first. With numerous calls for assistance coming over the radio, it was time for Santa to swap his sack for a chainsaw and head to Cherrybrook. It took our trucks over an hour to get there as we first had to clear several trees that were blocking New Line Road.
We spent the night in Cherrybrook and Dural clearing fallen trees off roads and cars, inspecting property damage to houses and directing traffic around the debris and at blacked out intersections. The devastation we saw from Sebastian Drive, Dural, through to Castle Hill Road at West Pennant Hills was surreal. Massive trees had been pushed over, or thick branches had snapped some 10-20 metres from the ground and dropped on whatever was below it. The Cardinal Avenue/Victoria Road area was probably the worst hit, every other house required a tarp on its roof. Given the damage, it was a miracle that no one was badly hurt or killed. Dural crews were deployed day and night over the following three days assisting the SES and other emergency services to complete close to 1,000 jobs in the local area. With tarpaulin supplies running low, a hailstorm hit in the afternoon of Thursday, 20th December.
Berowra Heights bore the brunt of the storm with most homes damaged to some extent. Dural was deployed and we spent the night putting tarps on roofs and carrying out other temporary repairs to limit any further damage from rain. Again, there were over 1,000 initial calls for assistance and Dural crews attended each day over the next week. The locals have since renamed their suburb Tarpaulin Heights. Further heavy rains and storms on Saturday, 5th January, resulted in RFS and SES crews (including Dural) heading to Berowra Heights again on the Sunday to carry out further repairs.
It is always humbling to see the impressive army of volunteers that mobilises when faced with natural disasters. Within a few hours of both storms, RFS and SES crews from all over Sydney were on the ground rendering assistance. This is uniquely Australian and should be celebrated.