More than 100,000 Victorian properties are without power after wild storms tore down power lines and damaged homes, causing widespread blackouts.
Destructive winds lashed the southern Australian state on Thursday night, with thousands of requests for emergency assistance and hundreds of properties damaged.
Victoria’s State Emergency Service (SES) worked through the night on Friday to deal with a large amount of requests for help in the aftermath of the wild weather.
The SES was dealing with more than 1,300 requests for assistance as of 7.30 a.m. on Saturday.
Energy market operator AEMO said 110,000 properties are still without power as of 8.25 a.m. on Saturday, down from 518,000 homes on Friday.
“Network crews continue to repair powerlines and critical infrastructure,” AEMO said.
One of the major power distributors, United Energy, said it is managing “high volumes of calls” with long call wait times, as its staff prioritise emergency calls.
United Energy said accurate electricity restoration times were difficult to gauge “until the full extent of network damage” had been assessed.
The damage to powerlines was so severe that some customers may not have electricity this weekend or even by early next week.
It is the first weekend that Victorians have been allowed to travel freely within the state, with many residents from the state’s capital, Melbourne, planning to visit regional Victoria for the first time since July due to a lengthy COVID-19 lockdown.
But holiday-deprived Victorians are urged to reconsider travelling this weekend, with popular tourist destinations including
Apollo Bay, the Dandenongs, and the Mornington Peninsula are among the worst hit by the storms.
AEMO recommended those travelling this weekend reconsider their plans due to the widespread electricity outages.
Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp also flagged there could be more wild storms in coming days.
Several locations recorded their strongest wind gusts in a decade or more, including Viewbank (104 km/h or 65 mph), Hopetoun (83 km/h), and Ben Nevis (117 km/h).
The storms suspended sections of several Melbourne train lines, closed vaccination centres and stopped two schools in Frankston and Pakenham running VCE exams.
They also caused widespread damage in South Australia, leaving more than 30,000 Adelaide homes and businesses without power.
By Emily Woods