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Thursday 7.45am: Vic Emergency has released a community newsletter for residents of the Macedon Ranges and Mount Alexander shires in the wake of Tuesday’s storms.
The newsletter, released on Wednesday night, said SES and CFA crews were expected to continue working on Thursday to clear away fallen trees and secure damaged buildings and property.
Mount Alexander Shire residents are asked to call the council on 5471 1700 to report trees on local roads.
Those who require emergency accommodation, who cannot stay in their own homes or with friends or family, should call the council on 0417 640 727.
Macedon Ranges Shire residents in need of emergency accommodation should call 0458 406 400.
Financial help is available to those displaced by an emergency; to find out if you are eligible, call Mount Alexander Shire Council on 5471 1700 or Macedon Ranges Shire Council on 5422 0333.
People are urged to protect their health by keeping clear of damaged buildings, power lines and trees; checking their homes or buildings for damage before re-entering; and wearing strong boots, gloves and protective clothing when cleaning up, taking care to wash hands and clothes regularly.
Given the power outages, people are also advised to be careful with food.
Once cold or frozen food is no longer cold to touch, it can be kept and eaten for up to four hours, and then it must be thrown away.
People should not use portable generators indoors as they can produce the invisible and odourless carbon monoxide, which can cause sudden illness, loss of consciousness and even death if it builds up.
When driving, be aware of road hazards such as mud, debris, and damaged roads or bridges.
Drive slowly and obey all road signs.
For more information on road closures go to the VicRoads website or phone 131 170.
The next update is expected by 10.30am.
Meanwhile, some residents of Ravenswood and Taradale remain without power today.
5.00pm: Some residents near Bendigo will have to wait until tomorrow for their power to be restored.
Click here to see the statement from Powercor.
4.30pm: IT was 10 of the most destructive minutes of weather Lockwood resident Deb and her family have experienced since moving to the property, roughly 10 years ago.
The wind howled around their home, turning trees into weapons and stripping sheets of metal from the shed.
Water poured into the pantry and laundry as the rain bucketed down outside.
Deb estimated it would cost at least $50,000 to fix the damage to her house, shed, fencing and car.
Damage to the vehicle, which was parked just outside the back door, was cosmetic but widespread.
There were dints and scratches on almost every panel of the otherwise glossy red vehicle.
Exposed wiring had rendered the shed unsafe.
And Deb was worried about letting the children out of the house because several of the veranda beams were cracked or bent.
With the secure fencing breached, there was also a heightened risk of the youngest children encountering a high-speed road.
Nor could the pets – including horses and dogs – be left to roam freely in the yard.
Deb said the house, contents, and car were all insured.
“We have no idea how we’re going to pay the excess,” she said.
Despite the damage, Deb said they had been lucky.
A tree still looms above their heads – one that was groaning through the storm.
“In all honesty, I was just waiting for that to come down,” she said.
Had it done so, she was doubtful the house would still have been standing.
Had her daughter got home a minute later, she would likely have been in the path of the tree that smashed through the property’s front gate.
3pm: A family whose caravan home was ruined in the storm say they are thankful for the support of those who have helped them since.
Rohan and Robyn Potter were eating dinner with their two young children when a shed’s roof was blown onto their caravan, punching holes in it and smashing windows.
Meanwhile, some residents in Huntly have also experienced damage from the wild winds and lightning that buffeted the region.
2.40pm: A big part of today, for many people, has been surveying the damage left behind from last night’s storm.
Epsom’s Nola and Ken Aicken spent the morning cleaning up their property after 12 trees or branches damaged fence lines.
The first priority was repairing a fence that separated horses and children attending the school next door.
Read more about the couple’s situation here.
2.30pm: The Bendigo SES unit has now had up to 115 jobs across the city.
North-west region duty officer Ross Hamilton said the Marong unit had seen about 60 jobs, while Castlemaine had had about 80, Woodend about 50, and Echuca about 25.
Mr Hamilton said the jobs were mostly related to fallen trees and branches over roads, but there was a significant number for building damage as well.
The Taradale area in particular had experienced “quite a number” of cases of building damage, he said.
Mr Hamilton said there was 16 units out in force across the region, from Gisborne to Mildura.
In some cases they were assisted by the CFA and staff from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
Mr Hamilton reiterated advice to clean out gutters and tie down loose items in advance of storms.
He said the SES was always looking for more volunteers and urged anyone interested to contact their local unit.
Meanwhile, more than 1500 premises remained without power in Bendigo at 11.30am.
At that time, Castlemaine had more than 1100 properties without power, while more than 2460 customers in Kyneton were waiting for power to be restored.
1.50pm: More than 1500 properties remain without power across central Victoria after last night’s storm.
The worst hit town in the region was Malmsbury, while a large number of residents in Maiden Gully, Huntly and Strathdale are yet to be reconnected.
For a full list of outages, click here.
1.30pm: The Castlemaine SES is still being alerted to issues after last night's storm and its controller is unsure when their operation will end.
The storm appears to have done the most damage in highly localised areas, "touching down" in places like Taradale, Redesdale, Harcourt and Castlemaine, according to SES controller Paul Fitzpatrick.
“It’s just the sheer volume of trees. There was an extraordinary volume of them down in localised areas,” he said.
Authorities were focusing on Taradale, Harcourt and Castlemaine, which appeared to be epicentres for damage.
Mr Fitzpatrick said joint operations with the CFA and DELWP were going well.
1.28pm: Due to the excessive damage caused by the storm that occurred on Tuesday evening, the City of Greater Bendigo will provide free green waste disposal at the Eaglehawk Landfill on Thursday, December 21, and Friday, December 22, for residents only.
Please note the free disposal does not apply to commercial operators.
The Eaglehawk Landfill, based at 191 Upper California Gully Road, Eaglehawk, is open from 8am to 4.30pm.
1.10pm: Bendigo SES volunteers are being kept busy today as calls for help continue to trickle in.
Duty officer Fiona Beecham said the unit received 82 call-outs on Tuesday night, all of which were cleared except for three that were reassessed this morning.
But another 15 have come through today, and Ms Beecham expects they will continue to come in as more tree limbs fall.
About 15 volunteers have been out responding to these calls this morning.
Ms Beecham said people should not walk, stand or park under trees after a big storm, as more branches could fall.
12.13pm: Marong residents have spent the morning surveying the damage caused by the storm last night.
Resident Greg Hartley said he could hear a lot of banging last night and this morning realised it was all the trees breaking from the wind's pressure.
"The storm came over like a great big white cloud of rain, you could hardly see through it,’’ he said.
"I was amazed when I came out to see trees and branches everywhere, there were a couple on my roof."
Damage to Mr Hartley's property included broken fencing. Trees fell and some branches that landed metres from his garage.
Luckily, there was no major damage and no injuries.
11.48am: Victoria State Emergency Service has warned people in the north-west to take care over the next few days after wild storms brought down hundreds of trees and interrupted power supply to many areas.
By 11.30am, 7200 homes in the Bendigo and Mildura areas still had no power due to wind gusts of more than 100 kilometres an hour, widespread dry lightning and thunderstorms.
Community resilience co-ordinator Jemma Nesbit-Sackville said it was important to take care after storms.
“Always assume that powerlines that are damaged or on the ground,’’ she said.
“Even damaged solar roof panels can still be electrically live and dangerous.”
Emergency and clean-up crews from the State Emergency Service, Country Fire Authority, VicRoads, Forest Fire Management Victoria and councils worked together through the night, clearing trees and tarping damaged buildings.
North-west region assistant chief officer Mark Cattell said Newbridge, Bendigo and Marong areas were among those significantly affected by the storm.
“We are still prioritising our response to dealing with emergency requests for assistance and ask for patience as we work through to providing assistance to those non-life threatening jobs on our list,’’ he said.
“To help keep everyone safe, the community and the emergency workers, don’t be out on the road unless you really need to be and if you approach emergency service vehicles with their lights flashing and crews working on tree clearing or storm clean up, you must slow to 40 kilometres an hour to go past.’’
The SES reminded people power outages could affect those with home-based medical equipment, heating and cooling. People should contact their electricity supplier in the first instance, but should call triple zero if their situation becomes life-threatening.
CitiPower and Powercor Australia are endeavouring to keep restoration times up-to-date, however these times could change as crews access areas and assess the level of damage.
SES advises residents, tourists and businesses to:
- Keep watch for lightning, lightning can start bushfires or grassfires. Maintain awareness of the impact of lightning on your property and your local area. If you find a fire call triple zero (000) immediately
- Listen to your local emergency broadcaster radio station for the latest weather warnings and emergency advice
- Stay clear of fallen powerlines and damaged solar panels, always assume they are “alive” and deadly
- Report any tree or road hazards to VICROADS 13 11 70
- For emergency assistance during storms, call VICSES on 132 500For life threatening emergencies call 000
- For the latest warnings go to www.emergency.vic.gov.au or call the Vic Emergency Hotline on 1800 226 226
- For more about storm safety, how to get ready and know what to do, go to: www.ses.vic.gov.au/stormsafe
11am: Residents in Taradale are dealing with the aftermath of last night’s storm with trees and branches down everywhere.
A timelapse of a few severe #Vicstorms moving through Kilmore between 4pm and 10pm Tuesday. The first resulted in damaging gusts, the second added large hail to the mix, affecting many northern and eastern suburbs of #Melbourne. #Melbweatherhttps://t.co/I3i5gwFmQppic.twitter.com/78CxTiHOIq— Bureau of Meteorology, Victoria (@BOM_Vic) December 20, 2017
Authorities and residents spent the morning clearing roads, with some people trapped on their properties.
Such was the number of trees that fell down one dirt road that Peter Ross, a Newstead resident who was helping a friend clear a path to his property, was unable to tell how far down the damage ran.
Residents like Michelle Guest, who was home when a major tree limb came down on her house, has thanked the SES, the local council and fellow residents for their support.
The tree damaged two of the oldest rooms of her home, which both dated back 130 years.
Her veranda was also damaged. and other branches littered her garden.
Two occupants were home when the branch fell on their house and it was only by chance that they were in the back rooms of the house looking for their pets.
Ms Guest said she had not seen a storm like this before.
“There’s been different storms before. But this was just white and you could not see very far in front,” she said.
Ms Guest said solid trees she had never seen move during strong wind gusts were waving around like flags.
10.47am: Parents have helped clean up fallen tree branches at Lockwood Primary School.
Some of the fencing had been damaged by the branches, but the school structures otherwise got off lightly.
Fiona Adams said some water had got into the art room and the out-of-hours school care buildings, but had since been mopped up.
This morning students volunteered to help sweep mud out of the courtyard so it would be prime for this evening’s entertainment.
The school concert was rescheduled to this evening, from Monday, due to hot weather.
Fiona said the grounds were tended to before the event was initially supposed to be staged.
The school playground was out-of-bounds on Wednesday morning for fear of overhanging branches falling.
Fiona said the school was fortunate to still have power.
Members of the school community had been affected by outages.
"A lot of the families here this morning they've still got no power," Fiona said.
Others were using generators, and even dropping food off at the school.
Fiona was aware some families had been affected by building damage, or injury to animals.
10.30am: It was only seconds after the storm hit that Rohan and Robyn Potter's caravan was slammed with debris, effectively destroying their home.
The couple and their two young children, Gypsy, 4, and Atlas, 8 months, were eating dinner at the Gold Nugget Tourist Park in Epsom as the storm rolled in.
Then within five to 10 seconds of the storm reaching the park, they heard loud bangs and the roof of the caravan caved in.
The roof and some of the corrugated iron sides of the shed on the neighbouring property had been lifted by the wind and slammed into the caravan.
They rushed outside to the car, then tried to salvage what belongings they could as heavy rain poured in through the roof and broken windows.
The family has only been living in Bendigo for nearly two months and while they have lost their home, they are thankful to have escaped relatively uninjured.
The winds were so strong that a small piece of asbestos shot through their canvas annexe and became lodged in a tree on the other side.
Ms Potter thanked residents, guests and staff of the caravan park for helping them with everything from storing their belongings to buying them food, saying she was overwhelmed by the support.
10.20am: Mandurang South's Rod Case has described the chaos he experienced during the storm on Tuesday night.
He said the storm cut a 50-metre-wide path diagonally through his property, over the house and into his neighbours' properties. It took down trees as it went.
"It was pretty fierce," Mr Case said.
"The barbecue and the gas bottle just took off and landed upside down quite a few metres away from where it was sitting and the outdoor setting flew even further.
"It was brief but it was full-on.
"Had to clear one tree from Mandurang South Road and it was great that neighbours just stopped to help clear the branches away."
10.08am: Fallen branches line the side of Belvoir Park Road, evidence of the storm that ripped through the area yesterday evening.
People are on the green at the Belvoir Park Golf Club clearing fallen branches.
A fallen tree was obstructing the road leading to Lockwood.
A shed bore the brunt of the storm's effects at Belvoir Park Estate.
Mell McClure, one of the estate's owners, was trying to cook tea for her family when the storm hit.
"The power kept cutting out," she said.
The wind picked up a cement pot and planted it in the pool, and some of the supports for the grape vines were bent by the force of the wind.
Some water entered the house when the downpour began, but was quickly mopped up.
"It was really full on," Mell said.
But, overall, she believed they had been pretty lucky.
Their home was not damaged, and despite obvious attempts to take flight, the trampoline didn't go anywhere.
10am: Another incredible photo – this time of the lightning. Thanks to Cass Fuller for sharing.
We’ve also added more pictures to the gallery above, of the damage across the region.
9.15am: Almost 1000 homes in Bendigo and surrounding areas remain without power this morning after storms swept across the region on Tuesday evening.
More than 550 properties in Lockwood and Lockwood South are without power after trees fell across powerlines on Bendigo-Maldon Road, and lightning caused an outage stemming from McGlashans Road.
A fault on the Calder Highway at Maiden Gully has also left hundreds without power west of Bendigo, including in Bridgewater and Leichardt.
The cause of outages in Bendigo’s eastern suburbs is from a faults on Heinz Street and Powells Avenue. In Golden Square, the fault is from an issue on Marong Road.
A fault on the Midland Highway in Goornong has caused outages for areas in Huntly and to the north.
A spokesperson for Powercor estimates the properties could be without power until the afternoon as crews busily try to repair all faults.
Lockwood South – 281 properties
Lockwood – 250
Strathdale – 80
Maiden Gully – 92
White Hills – 53
Huntly – 150
Huntly North – 29
Newbridge – 161
Golden Square – 71
East Bendigo – 30
West Bendigo – 11
Ascot – 5
Heathcote – 19
Bagshot – 14
Sebastian – 32
Campbells Forest – 5
Bridgewater – 46
Leichardt – 48
Derby – 25
Laanecoorie – 4
All of the outages have an estimated restoration time of 4pm Wednesday.
9am: The storm seems to have hit the Gold Nugget Tourist Park in Epsom pretty hard… check out the video here:
8.08am: If the storm was good for one thing, it’s knowing we’ll have relief from the heat today.
After a day of severe weather warnings, fires and storms, we can expect a much calmer day ahead.
It'll be partly cloudy across the region, with a top of 27 expected in Bendigo.
Echuca is forecast to reach 29 degrees, Redesdale 27, Maryborough 25, Castlemaine 25, and Kyneton 23.
7.53am: The storm passed quickly for many, but boy it was ferocious.
We’ll continue to update the gallery above with your pictures of the storm, and the aftermath.
We’ve also seen some amazing videos, including this one, shared by Instagram user @victoriamyersphotography:
7.30am: V/Line passengers at Malmsbury are unable to top up their Myki cards due to there being no power.
Services to and from Bendigo last night experienced significant delays because of the storm leaving debris on the track.
Coaches replaced trains from Kyneton to Bendigo.
7.10am: The Bendigo SES unit attended well in excess of 80 jobs last night, the unit’s training officer says.
Chris Stanway said most of the jobs involved fallen trees and branches, including a couple that landed on cars.
Mr Stanway said a crew of Bendigo volunteers went up to help at Mildura, which was hit worse by the storm.
Many people across central Victoria will face a clean-up on Wednesday morning after a storm tore through the region, bringing wild winds, lightning and bursts of heavy rain.
Thousands of premises remain without power due to storm activity, including almost 1700 in Maiden Gully, 448 in Marong, 134 in West Bendigo, 115 in Golden Square and 644 in Long Gully, all because of lightning strikes.
Radio transmitters are also out of action.
Peak wind gusts of 111km/h were recorded at Bendigo airport during the storm and 8.4 millimetres of rain was recorded.
More to come.