Power restored in Macedon Ranges after storm; SES grateful for reprieve

Gisborne SES crews worked through the weekend clearing roads in the Macedon Ranges of fallen trees and debris. Image: Gisborne SES via Facebook.

By Aleksandra Bliszczyk

Power was restored to thousands of Macedon Ranges Shire homes during the weekend after a storm on Thursday night – the second severe storm to hit the shire within months.

Winds of up to 110km/h hit the shire on late Thursday and early Friday, leaving residents in the dark.

Almost 2500 Powercor customers in the Romsey area alone were without power on Friday, with hundreds more outages in across Lancefield reported by AusNet.

By yesterday power had been restored in the shire but the clean-up of debris continues.

Damaging westerly winds swept across the state, with gusts of up to 143km/h recorded, as well as more than 500,000 lightning strikes from Thursday evening’s thunder storm.

Trees and fallen branches damaged cars and properties statewide, with buses replacing trains on several metropolitan and regional train lines due to debris on tracks.

Schools were shut due to power outages, including Romsey Primary School, which advised parents to keep their children home.

“The school is still open but is without a phone line so if you need to contact the school for emergencies only you will need to ring the school mobile,” the school said in a statement to parents.

“We have no lights so it is dark, no heating so it is cold, no internet, no phones and no canteen for food!”

Macedon Ranges Shire Council-run facilities including Gisborne Administration Centre, Woodend Operations, Gisborne Aquatic and Fitness centres, Kyneton Visitor Information Centre, Lancefield, Macedon, Swinburne Ave, and Romsey kindergartens, Romsey Service Centre, Romsey Recreation Centre, Hanging Rock, and Romsey and Gisborne libraries were all closed due to power outages, but have since reopened.

In the 24 hours to 9am Friday, VICSES received 1670 requests for assistance across Victoria. As of Monday the tally had reached more than 5000.

Members of the Gisborne and Woodend SES units worked through the weekend clearing debris, but Woodend SES operations manager Kevin McNare said the area was largely safe now and that all requests for assistance had been attended to.

“We managed to clean ours up reasonably quick, not like Melbourne … Melbourne really was hit harder,” Mr McNare said.

“As the jobs were piling in, we thought are we going to have another reasonably sized event [like the June 9 storms] but after two days it had pretty much calmed down.”

Mr McNare said the unit was relieved to have some reprieve after the June 9 storms saw some of the worst damage to the area in years, leaving residents without power for up to two weeks.

He said while there were still some loose or hanging limbs on trees that need to be attended to, roads in the area were now largely cleared, but residents should continue to exercise caution.

“I think with any storm like that we continually learn, but certainly if you’re going bushwalking, or just out in the forest it pays to be vigilant and just make sure there’s no damage around you or not going to be taking any risks,” he said.

The clean-up of debris on the roadsides is continuing and council has asked residents to drive with caution. To report a hazard such as fallen trees on roads, flooding or wandering livestock, call council on 5422 0333.