The Illawarra’s most storm-affected suburbs revealed

Bob Deadman and his son, Glen, watch a storm pass over Thirroul in February - a month many storm-related insurance claims were lodged. Picture: Adam McLean
Bob Deadman and his son, Glen, watch a storm pass over Thirroul in February - a month many storm-related insurance claims were lodged. Picture: Adam McLean

The Illawarra has been named among the state’s worst-hit storm locations, for the second year in a row, after it was repeatedly hit by wild weather during the past financial year.

The scale of destruction associated with storms during the 12 months to June 30 has been revealed in the latest suburb-by-suburb data released by NRMA Insurance and the NSW State Emergency Service this week.

The Illawarra was NSW’s second most storm-affected region in the 2016-17 financial year, making up seven per cent of all storm-related home claims lodged with the insurer.

Northern Sydney was the state’s hardest-hit area, with 39 per cent of claims.

Berkeley topped the list of the region's worst-hit suburbs, followed by Unanderra, Farmborough Heights and Dapto, with Horsley rounding out the top five.

The main driver of the storm damage-related home insurance claims was the torrential rain that turned deadly during March.

On March 16, two weather systems combined to dump more than 200 millimetres of rain on parts of the Illawarra in just a few hours. 

Wollongong’s Albion Park weather station was drenched by 151.4mm in the 24 hours to 9am on March 17. About 107mm of that total fell in a three-hour period.  

Falls were heavier on the escarpment, with daily totals of 207mm at Macquarie Pass and 203mm in Robertson. 

The downpour turned deadly when Ryan Teasdale was swept into an open drain at Unanderra’s Riley Park on March 16.

SES crews respond to cars stuck in floodwater on Station Road, Albion Park Rail after torrential rain drenched the Illawarra on March 16. Picture: Robert Peet

SES crews respond to cars stuck in floodwater on Station Road, Albion Park Rail after torrential rain drenched the Illawarra on March 16. Picture: Robert Peet

The 11-year-old was using a boogie board to slide down the park’s slippery slopes at the time.

Ryan’s body was found the next day, in a creek bed about 500 metres away.

Just days later, on March 22, the Illawarra was lashed by a fast-moving storm that dumped 20mm of rain in 10 minutes at Cringila.

Statewide, 52 per cent of the NRMA’s home insurance claims in 2016-17 financial year were the result of storm damage.

February and March were particularly bad for storm damage across NSW, accounting for 80 per cent and 72 percent of all home claims, respectively.

The data showed less than 1 in 10 people (nine per cent) recognised storms were the biggest threat to their homes, while nearly half (46 per cent) of all NSW residents had not taken any action to prepare their homes for storms.

October 1 marked the start of the latest storm season.

Despite Wollongong experiencing its driest September on record, the Bureau of Meteorology said the chances of a wetter-than-average summer across eastern Australia were increasing.

The bureau’s November-to-January outlook suggests a 57 per cent chance of wetter-than-usual weather in Wollongong during that period.

This story The Illawarra’s most storm-affected suburbs revealed first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.