Hundreds of thousands without power after freak storm ravages Victoria
More than 300,000 Victorians are still without power and some residents may in the dark until Monday after a destructive storm brought down powerlines and tore rooves off houses overnight.
Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said nearly a quarter of the whole state had lost power as of this morning, with 526,000 properties hit by blackouts.
As of 2pm today, there were still about 328,000 properties in the dark.
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“That is a very significant number,” MS D’Ambrosio said.
“The power companies are out there and are making very strong progress in getting people back on supply.
“It has been a significant event and it will take time to have the last of communities and streets to come back on power.
“We are working very closely with these power companies to ensure we have the information on the projected or anticipated timelines understood.”
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The State Emergency Service (SES) has been inundated with calls for help as strong winds and rain wreaked havoc across Melbourne, badly damaging homes, roads and impacting the public transport system.
Premier Daniel Andrews warned dangerous conditions are not easing and urged people to stay indoors, as new freedoms are about to kick in after months of COVID-19 restrictions.
“Secure anything around your home that might blow away – like trampolines or garden furniture,” he said.
“If you need to head out, please drive with extra care – and remember to treat any powerlines as though they are live.”
Mr Andrews commended the SES for helping residents impacted by the wild weather.
The freak storm is more “widespread” than the disastrous weather event that ravaged the Dandenong Ranges last June, but the extent of the damage is not as severe.
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The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) issued a severe weather warning for powerful winds this morning, with gusts of up to 145km/h recorded in the state’s west, with 143km/h winds at South Channel Island.
In Melbourne’s outer-south east, wind gusts soared to 122km/h in Frankston, while in the city’s north-west they reached 112km/h near Melbourne Airport.
The SES has received more than 3000 calls for help, 2300 relating to fallen trees and 490 regarding building damage – but only about seven houses are unliveable.
The worst-affected areas included Manningham, Dandenong Ranges and the bayside suburbs in Melbourne, while in regional Victoria, Ballarat, the Bellarine Peninsula and the Macedon Ranges have been badly impacted.
A tree collapsed onto train tracks in Glen Waverley and another that struck a bus in Narre Warren.
“It’s carnage out there,” SES posted on Twitter.
“Stay safe, and avoid road travel if possible. If you must travel, stay alert for fallen trees and debris, and drive to conditions.”
No one has been injured.
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Trampolines have been sent flying, trees have been torn from the ground and outdoor dining areas completely decimated by the strong wind.
Earlier today, 9News reporter Isabella Starkowski was caught in the storm and warned: “the worst is yet to come”.
“These conditions are actually becoming quite dangerous,” Starkowski said.
“We are being told that the Bayside suburbs, suburbs in the Mornington Peninsula and on the Bass Coast are going to cop the brunt of it and I’m saturated.
“This wind is only getting stronger…a tree has fallen on a bus, the police is here, powerlines are down.
“There is just widespread damage across the state. People are saying that on St Kilda Road in St Kilda there is corrugated sheets of iron flying across the road.”
Year 12 exams have been cancelled across a number of schools due to the unsafe conditions, with authorities warning residents in affected areas to practice extreme caution and remain indoors where possible.
Several vaccination clinics and testing sites have also been temporarily closed due to the wild weather.
The worst of the winds has passed through most of the state, with fine weather expected over the Melbourne Cup long weekend.
However, authorities have told Victorians to brace for more “unsettling” weather next week.