‘Mini-cyclone’: Severe storm hits Port Macquarie

A severe storm described as “mini-cyclone” hit the NSW Mid North Coast town of Port Macquarie on Friday afternoon, damaging the town’s central business district.

Residents were advised by the local council to avoid travelling to the CBD as emergency services responded to more than 60 incidents.

Damage in Port Macquarie’s CBD.

Fire and Rescue NSW said high winds struck the town at 3pm.

“The powerful gusts ripped the roof off an apartment block in Hastings River Drive,” the agency said in a statement.

“Residents from three top-floor apartments rushed downstairs to seek shelter with neighbours.”

Traffic lights were blacked out at key intersections between the Oxley Highway and Gordon Street, and Hastings River and Ocean drives, causing chaos due to peak-hour traffic.

Photos shared on social media by councillor Danielle Maltman showed a number of trees uprooted and structural damage to properties in the CBD.

Some 60 calls for help were made to the SES in the 30 minutes to 4pm, with reports of roofs blown from buildings, fallen trees and requests for flood rescues.

The number of calls had grown to 150 by 5.30pm, said Michael Ward from the Port Macquarie unit of the SES.

The SES were prioritising re-establishing safe access around the town, before focusing on clearing access to homes and businesses, he said.

There were no immediate reports of significant injuries.

Firefighters were working to assist at one of the town’s private hospitals after it was damaged in the storm.

Vehicles were also hit by falling trees, including a truck and car, which were both struck by downed gum trees on Murray Street.

Residents described the event as a “mini cyclone”, sharing images showing intense gusts and heavy rainfall.

A severe weather warning for “damaging winds and large hailstones” was in place for the Mid North Coast, the Northern Rivers and the Northern Tablelands on Friday afternoon.

Areas at risk included Port Macquarie, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Sawtell and Dorrigo.

With AAP

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