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Willoughby Living

Prepare for Summer Storms With Our Willoughby – Lane Cove SES Unit!

September 24, 2020

Did you know we had an SES unit in the area staffed by brave local volunteers? They’ve got some potentially life-saving tips to get prepared for emergencies – especially those crazy summer storms!

The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) provides information on how to prepare for, and emergency assistance during, storms, floods and tsunami. While the latter hopefully doesn’t apply to our area, our local unit – Willoughby – Lane Cove, which is based out of Naremburn, has some great tips for preparing to protect yourself and your property in the lead up to summer storms and other emergencies. But first let’s meet some of the team…

You may be surprised to learn that the Willoughby-Lane Cove SES  has three emergency response vehicles and approximately 70 volunteer members! “All of our volunteers are from the local community and they work or live in the area,” says Linda Watts, the Unit’s Public Information Coordinator. “We would like to introduce a few members, so that you can see the wide variety of backgrounds, skill sets and interests within the Willoughby – Lane Cove team: 

Jonathan lives near St Leonards and has been a volunteer member of Willoughby – Lane Cove SES for five years. He is the invaluable co-ordinator of the Incident Management team, which is responsible for managing the operation, including organising teams to tackle emergency jobs, usually during storms and often at night. When not at the SES, Jonathan runs his own accounting practice in Chatswood. In his spare time he is interested in Japanese sports cars and playing tennis, and is fluent in Cantonese (Chinese).

Yolanda joined the SES towards the end of last year. She lives in Castlecrag and enjoys weekends up in the Blue Mountains and surrounding National Parks. Yolanda works full time as an Archaeologist and Cultural Heritage Consultant and is also studying Conservation and Land Management, so she enjoys being outdoors, even in storms! ​ Her other interests include basketball, bush regeneration and overly ambitious jigsaw puzzles.   

Darren has been a Team Leader for many of the jobs in the 11 years he has been with the SES. His specialist SES training includes Storm and Water Damage Operations, Height Safety Systems, and Chainsaw and Flood Rescue.  So, you’ll often see him on a chainsaw making fallen trees safe, or up on the roof making temporary emergency repairs. He is an Electrical Engineer by trade and enjoys teaching Tae-kwon-do.  

Darren with Paddy, the SES mascot

Although the local SES volunteers’ primary response area is the Willoughby and Lane Cove Local Government areas, SES volunteers can and do travel to provide assistance to other units within NSW and interstate. Earlier in 2020, four local SES volunteers were deployed down to the NSW South Coast bushfire areas to assist with dangerous trees or clearing access roads blocked by downed trees and visiting homes for welfare checks. In July, three Willoughby – Lane Cove SES volunteers assisted the Ulladulla SES with storm damage and flooding. 

As it’s approaching the summer storm season (October to March), it’s time to get ready for storms. Some simple steps such as ensuring that gutters are clean, branches are cut back from your home, your roof is in good condition and checking downpipes and external drains are not blocked or covered will help prevent emergencies during storms. 

The majority of calls to the Willoughby – Lane Cove SES during periods of significant rain are often due to internal leaking and flooding caused by poor maintenance. The risk to your property can be reduced by being proactive and being prepared. With hundreds of requests for assistance coming into the Willoughby – Lane Cove SES at once during severe storms, it really pays to be prepared!

To protect your personal safety during storms you should avoid two other risky behaviours; 

  1. never walk or drive into flood waters – the Willoughby – Lane Cove SES unit has flood rescue operators and a flood water rescue raft but the SES volunteer members would very much prefer not to have to risk their own lives using it. 
  2. if trees or branches have come down they may have brought down power lines with them. You must stay at least 8 metres away from power lines until deemed safe. For power line emergencies please report these by calling Ausgrid on 131 388.”

For emergency assistance in floods or storms call the SES on 132 500

For life threatening emergencies call 000

For power lines down call Ausgrid on 131 388

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