AFTER the region was left reeling following June’s devastating storm, last week’s intense weather again saw mass power outages and widespread damage across Gippsland.
As of last Friday, October 29, VICSES had received 2518 Requests for Assistance (RAF) across the state.
Of the calls received, 1936 related to downed trees and 422 to building damage.
Leongatha SES Unit Deputy Controller Kate Lochlin said members began responding to RAF at approximately 6am last Friday.
“We were aware of the expected weather prior to the Friday and enacted our unit readiness plan, ensuring we had adequate equipment and member availability,” Ms Lochlin said.
“RAF for the severe weather event continued to be received throughout the morning and by approximately 9.30am, we had activated our unit Incident
Control Point, which is a localised RFA management protocol triggered by reaching a high number of RFA within a specified time period.
“The most recent RFA related to this event was received approximately 7pm Sunday, October 31, with the total since 6.30am Friday reaching approximately 40 RFA for VICSES Leongatha Unit.”
Ms Lochlin said the unit’s highly trained storm-response volunteers responded to RFA across 15 separate locations, from Nyora to Traralgon to Leongatha South.
“Of these, approximately 12 RFA were for building damage and loose debris, five for trees down restricting access to properties and the remainder for trees down across roads,” she said.
“Multiple of the latter were RFA for large trees across the South Gippsland Highway at high-risk locations, such as blind corners, forcing vehicles to cross double white lines without clear visibility.
“These were responded to as a matter of priority to minimise the risk of vehicle collision.”
Ms Lochlin said the safety of volunteers was also the highest priority when responding to severe storm events.
“Each crew leader continued to undertake dynamic risk assessments throughout the event and were advised to return their crews to the unit, should conditions become too dangerous to continue,” she said.
“Many of the tree down RFA also involved fallen powerlines, which increased the level of risk to our members, and these required referral to Ausnet to confirm power disconnection and scene safety.”
Other Gippsland units including Foster and Yarram were also extremely busy throughout the weekend period, responding to complex and numerous callouts.