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Extra SES crews sent to help tornado clean-up

Sunday March 24, 2013 - 10:29 EDT

Victoria's State Emergency Service is sending extra crews to help clean up after tornadoes damaged dozens of homes in the state's north-east.

The tornadoes brought winds of between 250 and 300 kph to the area from Cobram to Rutherglen on Thursday night, injuring 20 people and damaging more than 60 buildings.

SES incident controller Mark Cattell says six extra crews have been sent to help clean up in the worst-affected towns like Bundalong and Koonoomoo.

He says damaged powerlines and trees are still posing a risk and some caravan park residents are concerned about damaged gas cylinders.

"There may still be wires down or power down in some areas. Even though wires may be on the ground, they may still be live," he said.

"There may be properties where they've had ... some kind of surge which may be [causing] some issues within the home.

"Trees, as we've seen, [are also] fairly unstable at the moment."

About 12 homes were rendered uninhabitable and dozens of people spent last night in emergency accommodation.

Mr Cattell says the damage bill may rise as holiday home-owners inspect their properties over the weekend.

"Those people from Melbourne or other areas of the state may come up and check their holiday properties out and find there's more damage and report that then," he said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced disaster assistance for those affected by the powerful tornadoes.

Ms Gillard said the support would allow people to purchase essential goods.

"We are activating disaster assistance to help people who are affected by the tornado and the storms associated with it," she said.

"What this will mean is that there is some first-instance assistance available to help people with the costs of getting food and... replacements of essential items.

"This assistance is available to people in the Alpine, Benalla, Greater Shepparton and Moira local government areas.

"Our communities in Victoria's north-east are facing a very difficult day and our thoughts are with them and some practical assistance is available."


© ABC 2013

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