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A firsthand look at the Mildura storm response

A firsthand look at the Mildura storm response

Published 18/11/2016
Volunteer Danielle Eyssens is in her 10th year of service with Victoria SES. She shares what it was like after the Mildura storm.

When Glen Eira Deputy Controller Operations, Danielle Eyssens, received the call to support the Mildura SES Unit response to the super cell storm on Friday 11 November 2016, she was just driving home from a maintenance morning.

“I was heading home for a quiet Saturday afternoon,” she says. That quickly changed. Recorded wind gusts of over 96km per hour, with rail and hail, swept Victoria and hit Mildura, Irymple, Merbein, Red Cliffs and surrounding communities hard.

The Mildura SES Unit were at full steam. They had 347 requests by midnight for assistance and growing. By the end of the week it would count more than 660 requests. (Mildura only get 50 to 100 requests for assistance in a normal year.)

That morning two Glen Eira SES Unit members had already driven up in a convoy of SES vehicles. “I had just left the unit after a vehicle’s check where we run an internal service, check oil, water, all the equipment on trucks, give it a wash, ensure chainsaws are sharpened. It’s something we do every two months.”

Danielle (pictured far right) flew out of Melbourne that night with other support crew, arriving in Mildura at 7.30pm.

“As we descended into Mildura you could see some of the damage in the area but you could also see the extent of the floods that the northwest Victoria area is still dealing with,” Danielle explains. “As we drove the 15 minutes to the Mildura SES Unit we were faced with trees and tree branches down on roads, median streets and on buildings, including the local primary school which had more than half a dozen large trees down on boundary fences and on structures.”

 

Her support crew slid into action helping out the Mildura sector. While it was not the most severely hit (Merbein bore the brunt of the storm) there was still significant damage across the entire area. The main requests for assistance in this area were roof damage, trees down on sheds, houses, fences or a combination of these.

 

Members of her crew included three people from the Frankston SES Unit, Dimity Lynch, Rose Youil and Peter Millar, two Whitehorse Unit members, Brian Griffin and Justin Wilson, and a local Mildura member Kevin Chaplin.

 

Danielle has been an SES volunteer for nine and a half years now. She’s responded to over 1000 emergency requests for assistance.

 

Like most of our volunteers, Danielle juggles her work and family life with her SES responsibilities. Danielle is a Veterinarian. When she is called out it can affect appointments and surgeries. Luckily she was on holiday the week she received the Mildura call.

 

As an SES volunteer, Danielle has now completed training in:

  • general rescue,
  • rooftop safety at height,
  • chainsaw,
  • land search,
  • four wheel driving,
  • crew leader,
  • divisional command, and
  • a fire line leadership course.

She has also completed a Certificate 4 in Frontline Management and a range of operational training.

Danielle’s unit are experts in storm emergency response.

“A big part of our response is getting there, having a look and making it safe at least until contractors can come in,” she says. “With holes in the roof from a fallen tree, we can stop water coming in and causing more damage for them. We make sure things can be protected and are safe until further assistance and contractors can be called.”

Units were responsible for clearing debris, removing hazards and making public areas safe including the local school which had trees down in the oval and asphalt areas, plus breached fences effecting security.

Danielle credits and thanks the host Mildura SES Unit for a well-coordinated response.

Find out what it takes to become a Victoria SES volunteer.