Storm batters south east

An Emerald SES vehicle was destroyed by a falling tree.

By Shelby Brooks

Wild weather has ravaged Victoria’s south east overnight, with emergency services responding to thousands of calls for help.

Southerly and south-easterly winds gusting more than 100km/h lashed the state, cutting power to thousands of homes and creating destruction across Casey and Cardinia.

Emerald SES controller Ben Owen said it had been a “full on night” for his crew.

“It’s the worse I’ve seen and I’ve been here playing this game for the last 17 years,” he said.

As of 9am Thursday 10 June, Ben said Emerald SES had received 438 calls for help.

“Most of those calls we couldn’t even get to. We were cutting our way up roads trying to get to houses… we had police and ambulance stuck on the side of the roads with trees either side of them,” he said.

He feared many more people were in need of help but had been unable to contact SES due to radio, phone and internet lines being down in Cockatoo.

“I’d say there would be 100 to 200 calls in Cockatoo who can’t even ring us yet,” Ben said.

Crews are currently prioritising clearing roads to avoid any car accidents.

They also responded to 12 calls of people trapped in buildings by fallen trees.

“SES is pretty scimped for resources across the state,” he said.

“Hopefully in the second half of today we get some more SES crews to help us do some building damage stuff.”

A major blow for the Emerald SES last night was when a tree fell on one of their response vehicles, completely destroying it.

“The crew heard cracking in the dark and didn’t know where to run but I guess they ran in the right direction because they’re alive and well,” Ben said.

Those crew members had to spend the night at the Lilydale SES base, unable to get home.

Homes in Narre Warren, Narre Warren South, Cranbourne, Cranbourne North, Lynbrook and Hallam are still without power, with the expected restoration time to be 1pm today.

Within a 24hr period, SES Narre Warren Unit said they received in excess of 100 requests for assistance.

Power was also out for homes in Officer, Officer South, Cardinia and Pakenham overnight but has since been restored.

Apparently traffic signals in Pakenham had also been affected by the power outages.

There were also reports that the South Gippsland Highway between Kooweerup and Tooradin was closed due to tree damage this morning.

Shayne Honey from the Pakenham SES told the Gazette that Pakenham had been relatively “lucky”.

“Anything down the mountain, it wasn’t too bad, we’ve only had about 20 jobs,” Shayne said.

“We still have trees near houses, so we were lucky in terms of that. Normally you get a lot of business damage, roof tiles flying off in the wind. “We haven’t had any of that at least, which is good.”

He said a lot of the Pakenham SES crew had spent the night helping in the hills.

“If you drive through between Pakenham and Cockatoo, it’s just nuts. It’s like a bombs gone off, it’s hard to describe.”

As of 8.30am Thursday 10 June, the SES received over 4,000 requests for assistance across the state within 24 hours for help with trees down, building damage and flooding.