GIPPSLAND can expect further impact from the storm front that swept through Victoria in the early hours of Friday morning, expected to exit the east of the state by 6pm-7pm tonight.
Chief Officer Operations SES Victoria, Tim Wiebusch, and Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes, fronted a media briefing on Friday afternoon, saying the storm was ultimately stronger than originally anticipated.
“We expected 100km/h to 120km/h but upgraded the warning this morning when we could see the front moving closer to the state,” Mr Wiebusch said.
Ultimately it resulted in winds gusting to 140km/h in the state’s west, leaving a trail of destruction in its path.
“We’ve had more than 3000 call for assistance, 2300 of them relating to trees down but also 490 relating to building damage,” he said.
Mr Wiebusch said one of SES’s own people had been impacted, the Unit Controller at Emerald, whose homes received significant damage.
He said that while the storm had passed through, there was another two hours for parts of Gippsland before the State was clear.
Locally, the level of damage is still being assessed but the main issue impacting the Bass Coast and South Gippsland region was the power outage, impacting upwards of 6000 properties, including the Korumburra Secondary College which urged parents to keep their children at home.
Several roads were closed across the region including the following in South Gippsland:
- Ferriers Road, Loch
- Mardan Road, Mardan (at the Khunes Road intersection)
- Korumburra – Bena Road, Korumburra
The first two road closures were the result of fallen powerlines.
Minister for Emergency Services, Jaclyn Symes, provided an update:
“I’m here to provide an update on the situation in relation to the impact of the severe weather, particularly the winds that have impacted the state since late afternoon yesterday and significant impacts from about 5am this morning.
“Significant winds have impacted many parts of our state, gusting to 143 kilometres an hour impacted the west of the state, and 122 kilometres an hour at Frankston.
“This has caused quite a bit of damage to homes. Fortunately, we have not received any reports of injury to persons, but assessments are still underway, and I thank all of our emergency service personnel for their ongoing efforts.
“There is significant power outages and the Minister for Energy will update us on those events.
“In due course, significant impacts have impacted metropolitan Melbourne and some regional areas including at Ballarat, the Bellarine and the Macedon Ranges.
“We’ve had around 3000 calls for assistance to the SES line. That’s the 132 500 number. That is a significant amount of calls about half of those calls are still outstanding.
“There’s around about a half an hour delay in getting an answer if you have an emergency. But if you are in imminent danger, I remind you to call triple zero, the call centre is operating as normal.
“Police, SES and local councils are on the ground in the impacted areas checking on residents.
“At the moment our telecommunications services are strong, the battery back-up power for some of the towers, between the next three and 12 hours, is secure.
“And the telcos are prioritizing generators for areas where they think that may run out.
“We are asking neighbours to check on neighbours, see how people are going. We don’t have advice that there are any communities that are isolated but we do want people to check on each other and police, SES and the like, patrolling streets and making sure that impacted areas can get help if they need it.
“As I said, there is a bit of delay, but we do ask people to be patient. If you need help do call 132 500 and assistance will be available.
“What we know is that the worst of the winds has passed through most of the state and it’ll move into the east this afternoon. And then the weather is forecast to settle down and we’ll be experiencing fine weather in the coming days.
“However, we do have advice that the forecast is that we may experience significant winds and unsettled weather again next week.
“So, we will have emergency personnel working with local councils, cleaning the debris away and helping people with their trees and the like in the coming days in preparation for unsettling weather in the coming weeks.”