THERE is widespread damage in Ballina after yesterday's storm, which lashed the town with 160kmh winds and more than 135mm of rain in just eight hours.
Roofs were ripped off buildings, including Pelican 181 restaurant at Fawcett Park, the Commonwealth Bank in River St and the Ballina TAFE campus.
It is understood a number of schools went into lockdown during the peak of the extreme weather.
The Ballina State Emergency Service unit responded to almost 200 calls for help after 12.30pm yesterday.
Local controller Gerry Burnage said six members of the Broken Hill SES had been brought to Ballina in preparation for the storm, and another crew was making its way from Tweed Heads to help the Ballina unit.
The NSW Fire Brigade and four Rural Fire Service crews have also been helping out.
Traffic was affected in Hill St at East Ballina and Kingsford Smith Dr in Ballina with trees over the road.
Meanwhile, the roof at Pelican 181 restaurant was partially torn off, and Fawcett Ln was closed to traffic so the metal sheeting could be secured. Mr Burnage said crews were also sent to the Commonwealth Bank and Wigmore Arcade, both of which also suffered roof damage.
Marine Rescue Ballina commander Norm Lannoy confirmed that the rescue organisation's tower at North Wall was evacuated.
"It was shaking up there and it wasn't safe," he said.
"We've got winds of 160kmh or 80 knots - that's really heavy; that's cyclone stuff."
Trees were down across the shire, and many of the traffic lights in Ballina were not working.
The council's civil services group manager, John Truman, said crews were out as soon as possible to deal with public safety issues, such as trees across roads.
"We are just doing what we can at the moment," he said late yesterday afternoon.
"The main problem has been getting trees off the roads. The other issue is sewerage pump-outs because of the increase in inflows into the system.
"We are trying to manage that. We are flat out."
The council says the power cuts have also resulted in overflows to the sewer system.
Flash flooding also affected roads throughout the town, including the CBD.
Roof off at Pelican 181 restaurant, Ballina
Roof damage at Commonwealth Bank, River St, Ballina
Marine Rescue tower evacuated
Ballina Jet Boat Rescue building damaged
Roof damage at Wigmore Arcade
A number of homes with roof damage