Widely acknowledged as doing a great job cleaning up along roadsides in the past few week, South Gippsland Shire Council outdoor staff members including Matt Hardidge and Alan Wilkinson have a full book of jobs stretching on for weeks. Matt is also a Meeniyan CFA member and gets to do this sort of stuff in his spare time as well.

 

From Wednesday, June 9 when the storm hit, to June 16, the South Gippsland Shire Council had 885 calls for assistance.

Their after-hours service also received 296 calls during the same period, with a spike in calls going through to the service when the shire offices lost power for the best part of a day.

Most of the calls related to trees across roads or trees across access to rural properties and while most of the emergency access work was attended to quickly, the clean-up will be going on for weeks.

“Council, local contractors and emergency services have been working very hard since the storm to re-open roads and to clear fallen trees and debris from roadsides,” said Manager Infrastructure Maintenance, Wendy Ollington.

“Due to the amount of vegetation that needs to be cleared and removed, the clean-up will still take some time to complete.

“We would like to thank people for their patience and to remind everyone to please be careful when driving through the region as clean-up works on roadsides are still occurring.”

The emergency response was also addressed in council on Wednesday, June 23 by the Administrators, including council chair, Ms Julie Eisenbise.

“Just before I start, I would like to make special mention to those in our community who have been suffering the last few weeks since the storm damage. Our thoughts are with you continually,”Ms Eisenbise said.

“It does not seem to leave our mind at the moment, it’s such a big clean-up. It will take quite a long time to do so, and we ask for patience to do that.

“But I thank all the volunteers that have been involved in that, and of course we are thinking of all the residents, and also the staff, both at council and those from the government departments who are also working. We thank them also for their contribution.”

Ms Eisenbise asked shire CEO Kerryn Ellis if she would like to make a few comments as well.

“Yes, certainly. Thank you. So we’re very happy to say that the vast majority of properties in our shire now have power restored. At the moment we’re only providing support to one household that is having issues with consistency of power, but we do still have some very large parts of the shire affected by fallen trees and some other associated damage to infrastructure which we’ll be working through fully assessing, hopefully by the end of this week, and continue to clear, and then deliver their rectification works probably over the next couple of months,” Ms Ellis said.

“We do ask that the community please continue to let us know through our main customer service number or through our website, if they do observe any trees down or anything along those lines. But also, we do appreciate the community’s patience because obviously there’s a very large impact from this storm and it will take us some weeks or perhaps months to clear all of the trees and other issues that have occurred as a result of the storm.

“And then the other thing that was happening over the last few weeks is provision of support to impacted community members, which will now move into more of a response phase rather than an immediate event reaction phase as we clear and deal with the emergency issues and move more into the longer-term response, and likewise we’ve had notification from Telstra today that, again, the majority of mobile services have also been restored. Council will continue to partner with these agencies to ensure that we have full restoration over the next week or so.”

The council will also be applying for any grant funds made available by government for response and restoration works, especially to attend to a number of serious landslips in the shire, affecting road access.

Heaps of trees are still laying beside the roadsides in rural areas so reduce your speed when driving on country roads.