Long road to rebuild after WA cyclone

Tropical Cyclone Seroja damaged more than 875 buildings and 32 were completely destroyed.
Tropical Cyclone Seroja damaged more than 875 buildings and 32 were completely destroyed.

West Australians displaced by Tropical Cyclone Seroja face a long wait to be re-homed despite the arrival of more relief funding.

State and federal leaders on Thursday announced a record $104.5 million recovery package for communities affected by the disaster.

The funding will be spread cross 16 local government areas in WA's Mid West, Gascoyne and Wheatbelt regions.

Seroja made landfall in April as a category three storm with winds up to 170km/h.

More than 875 buildings received some form of damage and 32 were completely destroyed, including 23 homes.

Authorities believe the overall impact of the cyclone, across an area spanning 700km long and 150km wide, could take up to two years to repair and cost upwards of $200 million.

Some residents are living in caravans that were dispatched by the federal government to provide temporary accommodation.

WA's booming construction market, propelled by federal government housing grants, has left the state facing severe labour shortages.

The McGowan government will on Friday host a skills summit, bringing together industry leaders to discuss potential solutions.

Emergency Services Minister Reece Whitby said the summit would look at what could be done to fast-track construction and repair work in towns affected by Seroja.

"If you're getting a new home built in Perth, there's delays as well. So it will take time," he told reporters.

"We will do everything we can to try and get those tradespeople in place. Part of it's accommodation, part of it's maybe other incentives, part of it may be what our skills summit comes up with tomorrow."

Mr Whitby added that some residents had declined the offer of being housed in towns such as Geraldton because they wanted to stay put.

"A lot of people living in these communities love their communities, they might have livestock and horses there. So they want to stay," he said.

The McGowan government has urged insurers to process claims quickly amid suggestions many residents, farmers and businesses were facing long delays.

Some homes remained without electricity for months, with Western Power describing the overall repair job as the biggest it had undertaken.

The new funding is being touted as the largest disaster recovery package in West Australian history.

It includes financial support for the restoration of damaged community, recreational and cultural heritage assets, and grants to help residents, primary producers and small businesses with clean-up and repairs.

Funding is also provided for a community welfare and outreach program.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the federal government would stand with affected communities during the long rebuild.

"These communities will continue to get the support they need, that's the commitment we're making today with this more than $100 million investment to help them build back stronger than ever before," he said in a statement.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said his government would continue to work closely with affected individuals and businesses "for as long as it takes".

Australian Associated Press