700 calls for help, as North East bears brunt of bad weather

700 calls for help, as North East bears brunt of bad weather

20/12/2021, 5:10 PM

Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) volunteers received over 700 calls for help from Victorians from 4.00pm Saturday to 6.00pm Sunday, as further inclement weather moved through the state. With 522 downed trees reported, volunteers also responded to 90 calls for help for damaged buildings, and 38 calls relating to impacts of flooding.

The busiest VICSES Units across the state included VICSES Yarrawonga Unit (35 calls for help), VICSES Bright Unit (56), and VICSES Corryong Unit (44) in North East Victoria; as well as VICSES Northcote Unit (58), VICSES Whitehorse Unit (56), and VICSES Nillumbik Unit (44) in metropolitan Melbourne.

The North East Region bore the brunt of the weather with damaging winds reaching 100 km/h in Yarrawonga, which also saw a warning issued for a Very Dangerous Thunderstorm.  In elevated areas such as Buller and Hotham, winds reached 124km/h.

In total, our VICSES volunteers received 204 Requests for Assistance across the North East Region. Yarrawonga experienced the worst impacts of severe weather with 39 requests; 24 of which were for trees down on roads, buildings and powerlines.

At Corryong, we received 20 requests, which included 11 calls relating to downed trees and six calls to buildings which suffered damaged.

The town of Walwa, which experienced an unusual microburst of weather, saw two homes with roofs totally removed by high winds, and one property with fifteen large, downed trees that blocked access to the residents inside.

We encourage the public to remember: every tree can be a hazardous tree. Trees have been stressed and weakened during this and past weather events, and you may not be able to tell which trees have been damaged.  Be vigilant when camping, parking or sitting under trees, as branches may fall without notice.

We also expect to see further inclement weather over the summer. Now is the time to prepare. Clean your gutters, downpipes and drains to ensure they are not blocked. If rainfalls are heavy enough, we also may see “flash flooding” events. During this type of event, we may see water over roads, so do allow extra time for your journey and never drive on flooded roads. Driving into floodwater may be the last decision you take.

If you need assistance from VICSES, us call 132 500 for emergency storm and flood assistance from VICSES, but call Triple Zero (000) in a life-threatening emergency.

Quotes attributable to VICSES Yarrawonga Unit, Deputy Controller, Clinton Nunn:

“We were flat out. We started at 12.30pm on Sunday, and finished at around 10.10pm that night. We set up a sector command straight away, which received 36 calls for help with trees down on houses; powerlines; fences and along a majority of the roads, which were blocked. Everything was flooded.”

“We had seventeen volunteers out on Sunday which is our entire team, in a rescue truck and two support vehicles. We were very grateful to have had support from VICSES Shepparton Unit; VICSES Numurkah Unit; VICSES Cobram Unit; VICSES Chiltern Unit; VICSES Wangaratta Unit, and the Yarrawonga Country Fire Authority.”

“We were particularly grateful for help with tarping jobs, given the number of buildings damaged.”

Quotes attributable to VICSES Chiltern Unit, Deputy Controller, Cameron Roach:

“We had two crews of four volunteers out on the road and another six at at the local headquarters. We were also grateful for CFA members who assisted with driving the support vehicles; which allowed us to access our storm trailers with all of our building damage equipment, like our ladders, drills and impact drivers, tarps and acrow props.”

“We also assisted VICSES Beechworth Unit and VICSES Yarrawonga Unit. We left at 2.00pm on Sunday, with the crew at Beechworth returning at 8.00pm, and the other crew at Yarranwonga returning around 9.30pm.”

“We are so grateful to our wonderful volunteers for stepping up to help neighbouring communities across the North East Region.”