Freak hailstorm pounds the southeast, causes widespread damage to homes and disables SES headquartersA FREAK hailstorm that pelted southeast Sydney on Saturday caused widespread damage and disabled the Randwick State Emergency Service headquarters. Ominous clouds rolled in about 5pm on Saturday and unleashed a deluge of small hail stones and rain for close to an hour. It surprised thousands out and about winding down after record attendance at Anzac Day commemorations across the southeast. In a dramatic turn of events the SES headquarters in Maroubra was forced to relocate to a Randwick City Council depot after its ceiling collapsed. It came as volunteers scrambled in response to 210 calls for assistance.

Randwick SES spokesman Terry Pappas said staff were preparing for an influx of call outs during the storm when they noticed water running down from the ceiling. “We heard the hail, which was quite deafening, and we noticed that the ceiling had collapsed in several places and water was running down the corridor,” Mr Pappas said. “And then systemically it caused a collapse in all of the room’s ceilings. The worst call out was a 90 year old deaf lady in Maroubra (the worst hit), who had all of her ceilings collapse while she was inside,” he said. “She literally had nothing left in her house … she lost everything.” On Sunday morning adventurous residents took advantage of the freak weather event to build snowmen. Some used the opportunity to break out toboggans and snowboards. The deluge came just two days after the southeast was battered by its worst storm in 16 years. EP