DOZENS of trees were knocked down and havoc caused on the roads when south to-south-easterly winds of more than 100kph lashed the Mornington Peninsula overnight Wednesday 9 June.
SES and CFA crews worked non-stop to help residents with water and tree damage to their properties and to clear fallen trees.
United Energy said by early Thursday morning crews were working to restore power to 8615 homes and businesses after the “extreme weather which caused extensive damage to the electricity network”.
“Severe winds, with sustained wind gusts from 11pm to 3am of more than 100kph, have brought down trees and branches onto powerlines and caused extensive damage to the power network across Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs and the Mornington Peninsula,” United Energy’s Jordan Oliver said. “Crews are responding to more than 121 wires down and more than 421 faults.”
The storm’s timing was ironic: Wednesday 9 June was Thank a First Responder Day.
It was also the busiest night in SES history, with the SES state controller saying Hastings was the hardest-hit area on the peninsula. Residents made 190 calls for help in the 24 hours from midday Wednesday to midday Thursday. Other badly-affected areas were Sorrento with 84 calls, Mount Eliza 74, Mount Martha 46, Mornington 43, Rosebud 22, Somerville 14, Balnarring 12, Red Hill 11, and Rye 11.
Somers SES was called to 118 incidents by 4.30am Thursday – mostly downed trees. Peninsula CFA crews were just as busy, receiving dozens of calls for assistance.
Mount Eliza CFA responded to five calls Wednesday afternoon. The last was to extinguish a power pole fire in Eliza Drive.
Red Hill Fire Brigade, after receiving a request from police, rushed all their appliances to clear trees from roads with the help of residents using whatever heavy machinery was at hand.
The crews managed to clear trees from White Hill, Arthurs Seat, Red Hill, Stanleys and Shands roads.
Sorrento SES controller Mark Daw had not been to bed overnight as he was too busy attending call-outs. “I don’t know how many jobs we have been to, but it might be 50,” he said 11am Thursday.
“It’s like a war zone with mainly trees down over roads and other hazards.
“The calls came in from about 5.30pm yesterday (Wednesday) and started building from there.
“We’ve had lots of rain and I’ve never seen wind like it. It got to a point where it was too dangerous. No one got much sleep last night.”
Sorrento SES had three crews out (nine people) at 11am Thursday and still had another 11 or 12 jobs to complete before they could take a break.
Mornington Peninsula Shire maintenance crews were working alongside SES and emergency services, while shire arborists were out across the peninsula responding to calls for help with fallen trees. Rapid response crews were collecting smaller debris and rubbish.
“Due to the severity of the winds and impacts across the shire, it’s likely the clean-up will take up to four weeks. Branch pick-ups may take up to eight weeks,” interim director of place Jessica Wingad said.