More than 100,000 Victorian properties are still without power after wild storms tore down power lines and damaged homes, causing extensive power outages.
Destructive winds whipped the state Thursday night with thousands of requests for relief and hundreds of properties damaged.
Victoria’s State Emergency Service worked overnight Friday to handle a large amount of requests for assistance in the wake of the wild weather.
Emergency Commissioner Andrew Crisp said SES had received more than 5,000 requests for assistance since the storms hit, about half the number received after harmful floods in June.
“This is a big, big job for SES,” he told reporters Saturday. “Currently, we have around 1,400 requests for assistance that still need to be processed, and they are actually predominantly in that area from Berwick down to the Mornington Peninsula.”
He said problems ranged from trees falling over power lines or driveways, to building damage.
“It’s everything from quite small, right through to where there are probably about seven houses that have been rated uninhabitable,” Crisp said. “There are literally hundreds of emergency services out there today that are performing this cleanup.”
He said there had been a “significant drain” on calls to triple zero and SES emergency numbers when he urged Victorians to remain patient.
“I know a lot of people are still waiting for SES to show up, but be patient,” he said. “We will get to you as soon as we can. The number of new jobs is not increasing that much, but there are still waiting times.”
Crisp said 105,000 properties were still without power from 6 p.m. 12 Saturday, down from 520,000 homes Friday.
He said the state control center worked with electricity distribution companies “and pressured them to provide that clarity as to when the power will return”.
“We know it will happen in the next few days,” he said. “We will continue to think and plan in terms of what support is needed to get people if there is a longer tail in terms of power coming back to some of those areas.”
Energy market operator AEMO said 110,000 properties were still without power from 1 p.m. 8.25 Saturday, a drop from 518,000 homes Friday.
“Network crews continue to repair power lines and critical infrastructure,” AEMO said.
One of the largest power retailers, United Energy, said it managed “high call volumes” with long wait times, as its staff prioritizes emergency calls.
United Energy said exact electricity recovery times were difficult to measure “until the full extent of network damage” had been assessed.
The damage to the power lines was so severe that some customers may not have electricity this weekend or even early next week.
It is the first weekend Victorians have been allowed to travel freely in the state, with many Melburners planning to visit regional Victoria for the first time since July.
But holiday-deprived Victorians are urged to reconsider travel this weekend, with popular tourist destinations including Apollo Bay, Dandenongs and the Mornington Peninsula among the worst-hit by the storms.
AEMO advised those traveling this weekend to reconsider their plans due to the widespread power outages.
Crisp also said there could be more wild storms in the coming days.
Several places recorded their strongest gusts of wind in a decade or more, including Viewbank (104 km / h), Hopetoun (83 km / h) and Ben Nevis (117 km / h).
The storms suspended sections of several train lines in Melbourne, closed vaccination centers and stopped two schools in Frankston and Pakenham running VCE exams.
They also caused extensive damage in southern Australia, leaving more than 30,000 Adelaide homes and businesses without power.