Australia Weather News

Confronting scenes awaited residents. (ABC South West WA: Alex Govan)

Nearly a week since a tornado ripped through Western Australia's largest regional city, builders are warning shocked residents to prepare for delays in rebuilding.

The storm struck Bunbury just after 4pm on Friday, completely destroying nine homes and damaging more than 200.

But the cumulative impact of disasters like 2021's Cyclone Seroja and the 2022/23 Kimberley floods, coupled with an ongoing labour shortage, could lead to rebuild times being significantly stretched out.

"Unfortunately, there's not enough of us at the moment," South West builder Sam Karamfiles said.

"Last year we lost around 150 registered entities in the industry in WA alone."

Mr Karamfiles said the construction sector was still dealing with the aftermath of Cyclone Seroja, which impacted Kalbarri more than three years ago.

"There's still some government buildings that are still waiting for funding from the disaster relief fund that haven't been attended to," he said.

"There's a number of private residences that are still there today, as we speak, with tarpaulins on roofs."

More than 100 requests made for aid

Residents say they are still traumatised by the storm, which left a trail through the suburbs of South Bunbury, Withers and College Grove.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has received 102 applications for the premier’s relief payment to cover food, clothing, transport and emergency accommodation.

On top of this, the Department of Communities is providing 16 families with access to temporary accommodation.

Western Power has also received 800 claims from people whose homes were without power for more than 12 hours.

Krystel Morton and her daughter were out for a walk when the tornado hit.

"As we were walking, my daughter pointed to the right of us and she goes, 'Mum, look at this, all that stuff coming up in the sky," Ms Morton said.

"We could just see bits of debris slowly rising in the sky but then we noticed it was going in a circular motion and then we saw more and more debris building up.

"I just said to my daughter, 'Run'.

"It was very traumatic for a lot of people because nobody expected a tornado to tear through Bunbury."

It took hours for Ms Morton to realise the extent of the damage to her own property.

"We had somebody's back patio in our backyard, our clothes line was broken, our fence line was broke," she said.

"It wasn't until later that night we discovered that there was a tree branch coming through the roof into our bedroom."

However, Ms Morton said she was lucky her home was still standing.

Locals rally together

The Hudson Road Family Centre, located within the disaster zone, has given out food hampers to people who need them.

Centre development manager Jennifer Monaghan said the community was hurting.

"There were a lot of tears and hugs," she said.

"They're still recovering from what was a really scary time for them."

But she said even those who had been hit hard had dug deep to help their neighbours.

"Even if they've been flooded out and lost their food, we've had people come out and drop off bags full of food and offer blankets and things like that.

"A lot of our residents don't have a backup fund to just go out and purchase more food."