Woodburn bowlo here to stay

Woodburn Bowling Club president John Forshaw pictured on one of the greens damaged by Saturday's storm. To his right is the slab that used to sit under the club's shed.
Woodburn Bowling Club president John Forshaw pictured on one of the greens damaged by Saturday's storm. To his right is the slab that used to sit under the club's shed. Rodney Stevens

UPDATE 2pm: WOODLAWN Bowls Club president John Forshaw has shot down rumours of the club's closure despite shocking damage suffered there during Saturday's storm.

The thunderstorm completely blew away the club's utility shed, which was as tall as the clubhouse itself and managed to tear away a 200kg gas tank, which had been chained down to a concrete slab.

Metal sheeting was dragged along the club's greens, making them completely unplayable.

However, Mr Forshaw said the club was working hard to reopen.

"The rumours are far from correct," he said. "Closing is definitely not on the agenda.

"We have greens keepers at work, trying to get one green ready to play on by Thursday.

"There are a fair few scars on the greens from the iron that was flying around in the storm."

The storm cut power, water and gas to the shed. Power was restored yesterday, while the gas and water were reconnected today.

MORE than 25 volunteers are continuing the clean-up of Woodburn after a violent storm tore through the town on Saturday night.

State Emergency Service and Rural Fire Service volunteers are continuing the work after an army of more than 150 volunteers descended on the town yesterday.

One of the major issues the volunteers will face today is asbestos blown around the town by the storm.

Richmond Valley Mayor Ernie Bennett said the asbestos posed little risk while it was wet and was already being cleaned up.

Breathing masks were being distributed where asbestos sheeting had been blown by the storm.

SES acting region controller Kaylene Jones said 100 SES volunteers, 35 Rural Fire Service personnel, Fire and Rescue NSW officers, Police, Richmond Valley Council staff and Essential Energy crews were hard at work in the town yesterday.

Mrs Jones said the cyclone like winds that lashed the riverside town caused some of the worst destruction she had seen in years in the SES.

"The official information from the bureau is that they were in the vicinity of 90 to 100 km/h but the evidence would suggest there were areas where the gusts were somewhat stronger than that," she said.

"Talking to different people like the power company or the council workers they reckon there were winds of at least 150km/h, but again that's just a guesstimate based on the damage.

To blow over power poles the wind had to have been phenomenal.

"This storm is one of the worst ones for a small community like this that I have seen.

"Jim McCormack, who is our controller at Woodburn said while he has seen things like the cyclone at Lennox Head he has never seen anything like this before at Woodburn."

Mrs Jones said the winds brought down the main 66KVA power line from Lismore which supplies both Woodburn and Broadwater, and several 11KVA feeder lines as well.

Essential Energy crews restored power to some homes at Woodburn about 5.30pm yesterday but there were still residents left without power over night.

"Crews worked all day yesterday to restore power and that will continue for the next day or so."

Cr Bennett says he is hopeful an emergency declaration will be made for town today.

The application had already been lodged and was awaiting sign-off from the State Government.

Topics:  disaster declaration, richmond valley council, rural fire service, ses, weather, woodburn



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