The NSW State Emergency Service received nearly 2,000 requests for assistance including, 776 involving damaged or leaking roofs; 313 for water inundation or flood threatening; and 263 relating to fallen or threatening trees.
Mr Stowe said there is a sad history of scammers chasing storms, seeking to take advantage of the vulnerability of residents who have incurred damage to their property.
“Avoid door-knocking unlicensed repairers,” he said. “Only contract with licensed tradespeople and check trade licences online at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au or call 13 32 20.
“If you are approached by unlicensed tradespeople, take down as many details as possible, including vehicle licence plates and report it immediately to Fair Trading.
“While it is understandable people with property damage are anxious to have repairs carried out quickly, using unqualified repairers can result in shoddy or incomplete work and a next to impossible task of securing redress or restitution.”
Insurance Council of Australia CEO Rob Whelan said the first thing people should do after a damaging weather event is to contact their insurer.
“Making contact is critical to getting the claims process under way even if you don’t know the full extent of damage to your property. Don’t worry if you can’t find your insurance policy as your insurer has an electronic copy,” Mr Whelan said.
“If it is safe to do so, take steps to protect your property by doing temporary repairs or removing undamaged possessions but check with your insurer first. Any damaged or soiled items that are a health hazard should be moved to a safe area or disposed of after being photographed, again check with your insurer.
“Do not commission any permanent repairs without first contacting your insurer.”
Fair Trading can help storm victims by:
· providing information on how to choose suitable tradespeople to carry out repairs
· providing information about deposits and contracts
· advising people in rented accommodation and their landlords about their rights and obligations
· providing referrals to other service providers, including legal and financial specialists.
With more storms forecast, Mr Stowe said residents should not get up on any roof fitted with solar panels, particularly if tree branches have come down.
“Damage to a roof by debris can interfere with normal solar panel operation,” he said. “There can be electrical hazards with solar panels or Photovoltaic Arrays (PV Arrays), which can generate an electrical current as long as there is sunlight, regardless of whether or not the electrical supply from the state grid has been turned off.
“If you are unsure about the state of your solar panel installation, contact the installer or get the advice of a licensed electrician. Do not turn on the equipment without checking first.”
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