THE state government last week promised “significant support” to residents affected by severe storms which lashed the Mornington Peninsula, Friday 29 October.
Premier Daniel Andrews would not detail the scope of the offer other than to say that those financially affected would be considered for compensation.
Residents in the hardest-hit areas, such as Red Hill and Mount Eliza, were fed up after a week without power and feeling especially vulnerable, with big trees weakened by the wind threatening to topple or drop branches at any time.
Resident Amanda Wrangles said a tree on her nature strip that had been reported and declared unsafe, but not removed, fell into her house taking power lines with it along with causing “significant damage”.
“It’s Day 6 [Thursday 3 November] for us now without power [and] live lines are still all over the ground across the front of our property and street,” she said. “We’d really appreciate it if it could be made safe.”
Christine Mellett said she would “feel safer” if the authorities removed the tree on her nature strip that keeps dropping branches “but the arborist says it is safe. Ha.”
Deb Pierce said after six days without power: “Trees are leaning on my house. Trees on the nature strip are still falling. I would be happy if I felt like someone is helping but [it’s] not happening.”
Sorrento SES Controller Mark Daw said hillside communities were at risk of further damage with many huge trees still standing after last week’s wild weather but “threatening” to fall at any time.
He said SES “strike teams” at Red Hill were being backed up by reserves from NSW eager to help their southern colleagues.
“We are still getting calls for help in dribs and drabs,” he said, adding that crews were “exhausted” after seven days of mayhem.
“We’ve had 10 calls for help this morning and we are plugging along. We are in a clean-up phase. We seem to be clearing most jobs.”
Sorrento SES has 45 members but a core bunch of 15 volunteers working one or two hours each day.
“Blairgowrie and Rye were also badly hit,” Controller Daw said.
“There were many trees on cars and many threatening trees there.”
Constant drizzle on Wednesday 3 November found many homes exposed with broken tiles causing leaky roofs.
United Energy said Thursday it was still working to restore power to about 2000 customers – including a huge proportion on the Mornington Peninsula – on Thursday last week.
“About 1200 customers have been off supply since Friday 29 October, with others losing power over the following days,” spokesman Jordan Oliver said. “A further 230 were impacted by yesterday’s (Wednesday’s) weather.
Mr Oliver said United Energy had restored power to more than 250,000 homes and businesses, with the hardest-hit areas mostly on the Mornington Peninsula.
“We know this is difficult and frustrating for every customer who is still without power,” he said.
“This is the biggest restoration program we have conducted in recent years.
Major construction work is underway in Red Hill, Frankston, Sorrento and through other parts of the Mornington Peninsula.
“Our crews are responding to more than 1800 different faults, including repairing 700 sites with fallen or damaged wires across the south-eastern suburbs and the peninsula.”
He acknowledged some customers had “been frustrated by shifting estimated [power] restoration times”.
“It has been difficult to estimate this with the extent of damage received to the network,” he said.
Fallen power lines were still a problem late last week. They can be reported on 13 20 99.
Red Hill Market was cancelled on the weekend over concerns it would attract too many visitors to the heavily impacted area.
The police advised the shire’s Emergency Management coordinator that the market, scheduled for last Saturday (6 November), should not proceed because of the loss of power and water and the ongoing risk posed by unstable trees.