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Thousands of homes across Victoria remain without power as Gippsland evacuation warning downgraded

Saturday June 12, 2021 - 13:21 EST
ABC image
More rain on the way: Flooded paddocks outside of Yarra Glen in the Yarra Valley after heavy rain and strong winds. - ABC

Heavy rains and damaging winds have hit parts of Victoria for the second night in a row and there remain flood warnings for homes, as emergency services respond to thousands of requests for assistance.

"We do not want to see any more lives lost," Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said.

"We implore the community to please take care, take care in your car, and never drive through flooded roads."

Mr Foley said because of the flood and storm damage this week, authorities were calling upon Victorians to avoid visiting national parks and forests "until declared safe".

"So please, everybody follow the advice of Victoria Police, the SES and other first responders, to stay safe in these communities."

The Bureau of Meteorology downgraded its weather warning early on Saturday morning.

"Severe weather is no longer occurring in Victoria," it said.

"The immediate threat of severe weather has passed, but the situation will continue to be monitored and further warnings will be issued if necessary."

East Gippsland could still receive some light showers into the afternoon, a Bureau of Meteorology spokesman told the ABC.

Thousands of homes remain without power

Flood warnings remain in place across the state, including for Sale, Traralgon and other parts of Gippsland.

An evacuation order for Traralgon was earlier downgraded to a moderate flood warning.

Rainfall totals of up to 50 millimetres have been recorded over the Traralgon Creek Catchment since 6:00pm on Friday.

David Tucek, the SES deputy incident controller at Traralgon, said they were well prepared.

"With all the preparation and the doorknocking that occurred yesterday, and the fact that a bit of the rainfall perhaps slowed perhaps the rising or the speed of levels of the water this morning, just gives us a few more options there," he said.

"I think we're well placed in the community and well prepared."

VicEmergency said there had been more than 900 requests for assistance across the Macedon Ranges after damaging winds.

"The severe weather has also resulted in dangerous road conditions and a number of local roads are closed," it said.

The SES told the ABC that as of 9:30am, more than 68,000 customers across the state remained without power.

The Yarra Ranges Council has established 'power and shower' sites in Lilydale, Yarra Junction, Yarra Glen and Belgrave.

In the absence of electricity, Andrew Smith in Yarra Glen got creative to make his morning coffee.

The Coldstream fire brigade said it had attended to 15 emergencies over the past five days, with at least one fire in Lilydale suspected to have been caused by candles.

"This appears to have started due to candles to see during the night," it said.

"If you are using candle please ensure they are out before going to bed at night or if you are not at home to watch they are safe."

Broken water main in Trentham

Residents of Trentham in central Victoria have been told to not drink the town's tap water until authorities can repair leaks in a broken water main under wet and disturbed land.

Coliban Water has brought in a specialist crew that will use ultrasonic technology to help fix the problem.

Managing director of Coliban Water, Damian Wells, said the town's tank water supply remained steady and bottled water was being supplied to residents.

"I think there could be leaks on the customer side and now that people have got mobile phone communications back up and running we certainly encourage people to let us know," he said.

Heavy rain and damaging winds lashed the region on Wednesday night leaving residents without power, mobile phone coverage and access to drinking water.

PowerCor said around 6,500 people in the area remain without power, but the distributor expects the connection to be restored for many by tonight.

'Unprecedented' storm damage

The damage from winds and rain has been "unprecedented in terms of scope and scale", the Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, told the ABC.

"A lot of trees are down across Victoria. Not just here in Gippsland. It goes into the suburbs, the hilly mountainous areas near Melbourne."

"Obviously in this COVID environment, there are other issues around making sure that people are COVID-safe as well," Mr Chester said.

"The wind-chill factor is high and it is cold in large parts of Victoria."

He thanked emergency services and said that residents had taken evacuation orders very seriously.

Traralgon resident Alan Scarlet spoke to the ABC as he left his house on Friday night.

"We thought we were over the worst of it with the high water yesterday, to hear that it going be higher than that really does put our house under a fair degree of threat," Mr Scarlet said.

Electricity generation reduced

On Friday, authorities asked more than 200 households in the Gippsland area to evacuate.

Sale resident Brad Light spoke to the ABC as floodwaters began approaching his property.

"Won't be much sleep tonight, mate," Mr Light said on Friday.

"We'll be monitoring the water levels and see how we go."

The Yallourn power station's coal mine was also evacuated and electricity generation reduced as a precautionary measure following the heavy rainfall.

Energy Australia says the power station produces 22 per cent of Victoria's power supply, but the Australian Energy Market Operator says there is sufficient power supply and reserves to meet demand in the state.

"There will be thorough expert inspections of the mine this morning to check the situation and ensure it is safe," Victoria's Energy Minister Lily D'Ambrosio said on Twitter.

"To minimise the risk of harm to our people, the mine remains evacuated with mining operations ceased."

The flooding turned deadly on Wednesday when a man's body was found with his submerged car near Sale, and then again on Friday with the discovery of a 20-year-old woman's body in similar circumstances.

Emergency services are urging drivers to stay clear of flooded roads.


© ABC 2021

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