Cars submerged and shopping centre roof collapses as severe storm hits Perth

Parts of Perth broke a six-month-long dry spell on Friday with a fierce storm and flash flooding that left people stranded in submerged cars and caused part of a shopping centre roof to collapse.

A spokesperson for WA’s emergency services said SES volunteers had been going “flat out” to help fire crews with rescues. There had been about 50 calls for assistance over the course of the afternoon.

“There were a number caught in their cars that needed to be rescued,” the spokesperson said.

A video posted to social media showed a roof collapsed during the storm at a shopping centre in Perth. Ocean Keys Shopping Centre in Clarkson confirmed to the Guardian that it had experienced a roof collapse.

Bureau of Meteorology spokesperson Daniel Hayes said the official weather gauges only showed around 10-11mm had hit Perth during the storm.

Related: WA floods: Seven people missing for days in remote area found ‘safe and well’, police say

However, he said the storm – which came with some hail – was “very localised” around Perth’s northern suburbs and the Bureau had received unofficial reports of up to 130mm falling in some parts.

“It was the first significant rainfall in those areas for probably a good six month period,” he said.

“I wouldn’t call it a freak storm, but it did develop quite quickly and unfortunately that’s the nature of the beast sometimes.”

Hayes said the deluge fell for between 30 and 60 minutes, but had since largely eased and the severe thunderstorm warnings had been cancelled.

Edoardo Paolucci, who lives in the Perth suburb of Clarkson, said the streets surrounding his parents’ home had flooded.

He said he had seen three cars submerged in the flood water that had been abandoned. One car still had the windscreen wipers on, he said.

“It’s still completely flooded, but the rain has slowly been letting up,” he said.

Paolucci said some had been making fun out of the flooded streets, with one duo kayaking past his parents’ house, and kids playing with paddle boards on the road.

“There’s dogs playing in the park that’s flooded,” he said.

Hayes said the deluge hit Perth before a weekend which will be mainly dry across the country.

“This weekend is largely dominated by high pressure ridge across some most of the country and that includes Western Australia,” he said.