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  1. Hope none of our members are affected by this:wideeyed: BRISBANE has been declared a natural disaster area, as soldiers help repair damage caused by one of the biggest storms to hit the city in two decades. More than 32,000 properties across Brisbane, Redcliffe and the Gold Coast were without power this afternoon after yesterday's storm brought hail and wind gusts of up to 130km/h, ripped roofs from houses and toppled power lines and trees. While most areas received 40mm to 60mm of rain, Ferny Hills in the northwest suburbs of Brisbane received 80mm, 69mm of which fell in 30 minutes yesterday afternoon. A 20-year-old man was killed when he was swept away by quickly rising water while photographing the storm in a drain with a 23-year-old friend at Chermside, in Brisbane's northern suburbs. Premier Anna Bligh compared the disaster to Cyclone Larry, which devastated north Queensland in 2006. Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard activated natural disaster relief and recovery arrangements, including the deployment of 40 soldiers, and pledged to cover half of the State Government's clean-up costs. "The Government's thoughts are with the thousands of families that have been caught up in this disaster and most particularly with the family of the young man who tragically lost his life," Ms Gillard said. Lord Mayor Campbell Newman said 1200 people, including emergency services personnel, Energex staff, Queensland police and the army, were working on the clean-up. "Nothing like this has happened to the city for at least 10 years," he said. "Perhaps it goes back to 1985 with a very big storm back in those days." He said Energex had recorded 576 cases of toppled powerlines. Some homes are expected to remain without power until tomorrow. The city council has warned residents in western Brisbane to boil their water or buy bottled water after a bird dropping-coated roof collapsed into a reservoir at The Gap - the worst-hit area of the city. Transport services are expected to remain disrupted into tomorow and traffic lights are out at many intersections. Ms Bligh said families severely affected by the storm were eligible for cash assistance of up to $765 and individuals could claim $165. "These are just the immediate cash payments for people who have literally got nothing, for people who need to buy food for their children or buy clothes," she said. Ms Bligh said some people would not be able to return home for weeks. Police patrols are being boosted to deter looters. Ms Bligh said up to 4000 insurance claims had already been made, but this would grow. She also warned more storms were expected to hit southeast Queensland on Thursday.
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