Thousands remain without power in Victoria days after deadly storm


Thousands of Victorians remain without power, days after a deadly storm lashed eastern parts of the state.

Emergency management commissioner Andrew Crisp confirmed 39,000 homes remain without power on Sunday, down from 300,000 immediately after the storm, which began on Wednesday night.

“Rest assured everything’s being done to ensure that those people get back on power as soon as possible,” he told reporters in flood-affected Traralgon.

Crisp said a number of communities remain unable to call triple zero, though community meetings are being held and Red Cross volunteers are conducting doorknocks to ensure people are able to access information.

“With those particular communities, they might be isolated in terms of some telecommunications, but they’re not geographically isolated so people can get in and out,” he said.

“That number of communities that are unable to access triple zero is significantly reducing every day, but … that’s going to be a priority for us.”

Acting premier James Merlino detailed on Sunday the emergency assistance, jointly funded by the commonwealth and state government, of grants of up to $42,250 to help those with damaged properties.

“Whether it’s support for accommodation, major repairs at home, we want to get people back in their homes as quickly as possible,” Merlino said.

Merlino and acting emergency services minister Danny Pearson joined Crisp in Traralgon after surveying the damage.

“We observed through the helicopter the extent of the damage. What was quite evident is whilst it’s receding now, it still is quite deep in parts, and there’s many, many areas that have been quite severely impacted,” Merlino told reporters.

Crisp said a number of different agencies were working together to clear roads and fix damaged poles and transformers.

“There’s a long way to go, but a lot of really good work [is] happening at the moment,” Crisp said.

While flash flooding has eased, a moderate flood warning remains in place for the Thomson River downstream of Wandocka and Sale and the Latrobe River from Yallourn to Traralgon Creek.

Crisp said there was potential for a further east coast low that could develop late next week and cause more heavy rainfall in the region.

“There is every chance we could see up to 50mm in East Gippsland and back into south and west Gippsland,” he said.

“So this is not over yet, we have to continue focusing on the potential risk to communities.”

Victoria has been lashed with gusty winds of up to 125km/h and heavy rainfall since Wednesday night and two people have died in the dangerous conditions.

A young woman was found in a vehicle in flood waters at Glenfyne, 200km southwest of Melbourne, on Friday, and a man’s body was found in his submerged car at the Gippsland town of Woodside on Thursday.

Two State Emergency Service volunteers were hospitalised during recovery works, with one suffering a broken shoulder blade and the other a broken wrist.

It remains unclear how many properties have been damaged by the storm.