IT’S almost a contradiction in terms but keeping SES members safe in an often, unsafe environment is paramount to the Phillip Island SES.
So even when they were called out to attend more than 30 emergency calls after last the Easter Saturday storm, members were operating under strict COVID-19 directives while going about their duties.
“We had fewer active members due to the coronavirus lockdown but the seven members we had were divided into three crews of two to provide separation but also with support,” said Deputy Phillip Island Controller Alan O’Connor.
“We had trees down across cars parked underneath, not write-offs but resulting in considerable damage. We had structural damage as well, with a tree falling on a house and sheets of iron lifting on shops in Cowes.
“It was pretty wild. We also had trees across powerlines and roads. We were still cleaning up on Sunday,” said Mr O’Connor.
While wind gusts at Wilsons Promontory peaked at 132km/h at 12.30pm on Saturday, 87km/h at Pound Creek near Inverloch, there is no data from the surf side of Phillip Island, but wind did gust to 69km/h at Rhyll on the sheltered side.
Jarrod Hargreaves, Controller of the Wonthaggi SES Unit said his units were just as busy.
“The four SES units in Bass Coast responded to 56 requests for assistance within the shire boundary. The busiest of which being the Phillip Island Unit with a total 29 of those 56 jobs. Overall the east region saw 201 of the statewide total of 659 requests for assistance over the 24 hour period,” said Jarrod.
“This included everything from rescue events to building damage events however a majority of the incidents involved trees down as traffic hazards which posed a significant safety risk for road users.
“At a rough estimate, I would not be at all surprised if the VICSES members in Bass Coast clocked up 200-plus volunteer hours throughout Easter Saturday.”
There were also significant power outages on Saturday with reports that power was out at the Coalfields Caravan Park for 24 hours.