Sydney copped another beating from a freak hail storm last night, it was so strong that it collapsed whole factories and turned parts of Sydney into snow fields and raging rapids.
It is the second time in a week that the city and its surrounding areas have been battered by severe weather.
The storms, which took four lives – three in Dungog and one in Maitland, have prompted the NSW government to consider putting away funds to protect the state’s budget from similar natural disasters in the future. The SMH as more on that here.
This “rainy day” fund is expected to exceed $95 million, but the exact amount won’t be revealed until Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian hands down the state budget in June.
A large percentage of the government funds will go towards Ausgrid, which estimates it will cost $15 million to repair broken cables and electricity poles, and the states roads – all uninsured by the NSW government – which have been damaged.
The damage bill so far has hit $161 million, according to The Insurance Council of Australia, with 24,250 insurance claims made as of 10am AEST Thursday.
“These are early figures for this catastrophe, and insurers are standing by for many more claims to be lodged over the next few days,” said chief executive Rob Whelan.
A clean-up in the Hunter Valley region, one of the worst hit areas in the state, could take months to be completed.
Premier Mike Baird, who visited the area after the storm, said it was difficult to put a figure on the extent of the damage in the region.
“When I looked at what I just saw I was in shock, to be honest, in terms of the size and scale of what we are confronting here,” he said.
“There is no doubt going to be a very big bill, and it is undoubtedly going to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The 1999 Sydney hailstorm still ranks as the costliest natural disaster in Australian insurance history, with claims exceeding $1.7 billion — the equivalent of $4.3 billion in today’s dollars.
Here’s a look at damage, and extent of the severe weather conditions Sydney experienced last night.
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