Storm sparks record cleanup

A STORM hit South Gippsland with increased intensity across the Loch and Poowong areas last Tuesday, November 13, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake and local cleanup crews run off their feet.
Starting in Melbourne and travelling towards the eastern region, the storm reached the Loch-Poowong area at about 5pm, stalling motorists’ journeys home from work.
Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster and meteorologist Stephen King said South Gippsland on average, received one of Victoria’s highest rainfalls during the storm.
Pound Creek recorded 29mm, Wilsons Promontory 24mm, Toora 36mm and Wonthaggi 23 mm in the 24 hours leading up to 9am Wednesday.
Victoria State Emergency Service Leongatha Unit had the most incident callouts in the entire eastern region of Victoria.
SES community engagement manager Kate Lochlin said crews cleared fallen trees in order to reach the scenes to which they were called.
An incident control centre was established to coordinate three crews working across nine locations, with one crew finishing around 3.30am Wednesday.
“We attended 22 incidents in about two hours, with up to 18 volunteers working to clear trees and coordinating with South Gippsland Shire Council cleanup crews,” Ms Lochlin said.
“Given the time of the first storm, the crews did an amazing job to clear the incidents and reduce any dangers to members of the public. Fortunately there was minimal damage to homes.”
“Of special urgency was the need to clear trees along Black Spur bend (South Gippsland Highway) near Koonwarra because of the known increase in danger any tree falls would have on that stretch of road.”
South Gippsland Shire Council had five two person crews working on the roads with the SES, attending to incidents on council roads.
Council works coordinator Colin Williams said the wind damage was mainly north west of Leongatha and seemed to be isolated to the Kongwak, Outtrim, Korumburra, Bena, Loch, Poowong and Nyora areas.
“The worst affected road was Drysdales Road, Outtrim where up to 30 trees were cleaned off the road on Wednesday with a front end loader,” he said.
“Over the past 12 months the SES and council have worked together on these wind storm events to minimise the doubling up of the crews.
“We are very grateful to the many people who assist council and the SES on these nights removing debris off the roads.”
VicRoads acting eastern region director Pas Monacella said the storm activity in South Gippsland didn’t generate significant issues on the arterial road network.
He said the few trees down along Lang Lang-Poowong Road were cleared by VicRoads maintenance crews.

Road chaos: motorists on the Bass Highway were held up by vegetation debris caused by a storm on Tuesday, November 13.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=26723

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