Wind, big seas cause mayhem across shire

Robyn Buckland and her Toyota Celica flattened by a large branch last Thursday morning in Browning Street, Byron Bay. PHOTO: Gary Chigwidden.
Robyn Buckland and her Toyota Celica flattened by a large branch last Thursday morning in Browning Street, Byron Bay. PHOTO: Gary Chigwidden.
Last week’s near-cyclonic weather created mayhem across the Byron Shire with strong winds, clocked at up to 133km/h at Cape Byron, and heavy rain causing widespread property damage.

Byron Council faces a massive roads and infrastructure bill, with the Byron Shire declared a natural disaster zone.

Emergency services were kept busy dealing with fallen trees on homes and roads, and residents kept a wary eye on rising floodwaters, especially in the north of the shire at Billinudgel and South Golden Beach.

Wild seas also caused further extensive damage to dunes on shire beaches, with Belongil Beach at Byron Bay particularly hard hit

On Monday, the council closed all beach accesses in the shire because of potential dune collapses.
A section of the south wall at the Brunswick River mouth was washed away.

Some long-time residents said the winds were the worst they had experienced in more than 20 years.

With falling trees dragging down power lines, many areas in the shire suffered extensive – and in some cases – expensive blackouts.

  At 5 am last Thursday, wind was recorded at 115 to 133 km/h at Cape Byron and at 100 to 117 km/h at 5 pm the same day.

A large branch flattened Robyn Buckland’s Toyota Celica parked outside her home in Browning Street, Byron Bay, at about the time the strongest wind was recorded..

Robyn had owned the car for about five years and had just had it registered. It was insured, she said.
At about the same time, Fishheads co-owner Mark Sims heard a crash outside his home in Lighthouse Road.

With his 13-week-old daughter in his arms, Mark went outside to investigate and saw a large tree uprooted and blocking the westbound land of the divided road.

Across the road, he could see sparks coming from a power line that had been brought down by another fallen tree.

With the help of workers from a nearby construction site, he was able to cut away branches stretching on to the eastbound lane, but it didn’t stop the road from being closed by police to all traffic for some hours.

The road to the Byron Bay lighthouse was closed for all of last Thursday and part of last Friday because of trees across the roadway.

Trees had also come down in Palm Valley Drive, blocking access to The Pass and at Wategos Beach.

The fierce winds peeled the roof of the Interior Motives warehouse at the Byron Bay Arts and Industry Estate like a sardine tin.

Police were quickly on the scene to keep people clear of the building and any flying debris.

On Monday, Byron Shire SES controller, Noel McAviney, said the walls were unstable and the building would have to be demolished.

A large number of trees came down at the Byron Bay Golf Club and the course was closed over the weekend.

Greenkeeping staff and club members continued the clean-up on Monday.

The clean-up around the shire is continuing.

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