A man’s body has been discovered in floodwaters in Victoria amid one of the worst storms to hit the state in decades.
Police said the man believed to be in his 60s was found in a vehicle in Woodside, Gippsland, on Thursday at about 1:45pm after a member of the public called Triple 0.
The tragedy comes as a quarter of a million homes have been plunged into darkness in Victoria’s worst-ever power outage as the state is slammed by the most destructive storms in decades.
Entire towns are being evacuated as the Bureau of Meteorology issued major flood warnings for several areas including Milgrove, Licola, Cowwarr weir, Tanjil Junction and Traralgon in Victoria’s east.
Torrential rain and winds of up to 120km/h lashed the state overnight, with the Gippsland region and Melbourne’s outer south-east among the worst impacted areas.
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Residents in Traralgon, Victoria, watch on as rising floodwaters prompt an evacuations
Flood waters run through Walhalla North Gardens, in Walhalla, Victoria,
Heavy rain inundates the Walhalla North Gardens flooding the surrounding parklands
Floods stream down among debris near the entrance of a gold mine in Walhalla, Victoria, Australia June 10, 2021
Thousands of homes are expected to remain in the dark for several days with more wild weather on the way – as The VicEmergency website showed more than 2000 incidents across the state at about 8am on Thursday.
Police have called the Mt Dandenong suburb of Kalorama a ‘death trap’ as people are stuck in their homes and trees could collapse at any minute.
Photographs from the Walhalla area show flood waters running through the Walhalla North Gardens, where the river has burst its banks and inundated the entrance to the Wallhalla Gold Mine.
Anyone who lives, works or is holidaying in the Traralgon Creek region in Gippsland has been told to ‘evacuate now’ amid rising floodwaters.
There are also major flood warnings for Avon River, Latrobe River, Macalister River, Thomson River and Yarra River.
The VicEmergency website showed more than 2000 incidents across the state at about 8am on Thursday
A car was submerged by flood water in Traralgon, in Victoria on Thursday
SES Victoria chief Tim Wiebusch said crews had performed about a dozen rescues from motorists stranded in flood waters in Gippsland.
Footage emerged of a man being winched from his car roof by a helicopter on Thursday morning, as Mr Wiebusch warned the number one fatality during storms is people driving through floodwaters.
Flood waters are expected to rise to 5.7 metres, and a relief centre has been set up at Traralgon Basketball Stadium.
The town of Trentham, 90km north-west of the city, was completely cut off by fallen trees, with fears some remained trapped in their homes.
‘Trentham is totally isolated with no roads in or out,’ Victoria Police spokeswoman Sergeant Julie-Anne Newman told 3AW on Thursday morning.
‘Ballarat, Trentham, Ballan, Gordon don’t have any power and Daylesford… A lot of the roads are blocked and police can’t even get in there.’
Wild winds are easing after battering Victoria overnight (pictured), prompting more than 150 calls for help. Pictured: Tree ripped from the roots
The storm battered the state, leading to at least 3600 emergency call-out requests
Residents in the suburb of Kalorama – described by police as a ‘death trap’ – are stuck as power lines are strewn across Mt Dandenong Tourist Road.
21 homes in the Dandenongs have already been damaged by falling trees.
Budgeree local Kelly van den Berg told the ABC she hide in her lounge room with her pet as the storm ‘annihilated’ her entire property last night.
‘[The storm] crushed my greenhouse and my chook shed’s gone, and it’s pretty much annihilated my whole property,’ she said.
‘I’m stuck up here, my roof I think is off, I’ve got some severe tree damage, I’ve got trees down all around my house and around my cars on my shed.’
More than 30,000 people were left without power in metropolitan Melbourne, and Ausnet has said it could take days for it to be restored as some areas were too dangerous for crews to access.
The SES had about 4,000 calls for help across the state over the past 12 hours, most for fallen trees and building damage.
Local residents assess storm damage in Lilydale, Melbourne on Thursday
Flood water seen surrounding a house in Traralgon in Victoria
Gippsland is on alert for major river flooding after Mt Baw Baw, Mt Tassie and the Thomson-Yarra Divide all recorded rainfall totals over 200mm.
‘That water is all going to come down the hills and hit us,’ Gippsland South MP Danny O’Brien said on Thursday.
The Traralgon Creek has now burst its banks and the Thomson River at Sale is likely to peak on Thursday afternoon.
Mr O’Brien, who is returning to his Sale home to monitor the situation, said a local brigade had already been called out three times for people stuck in cars trying to drive through floodwaters.
‘Our emergency services have got enough to do without having to try and deal with these issues that can be avoided,’ the Nationals MP said.
A tree smashed through the roof of a house during last night’s storm in Emerald, Victoria (pictured)
Storm damage is seen in Melbourne on Thursday
‘If you don’t need to be travelling today stay at home, please be very careful on the roads slow down and don’t drive through floodwaters.’
Victorian SES commander Jackson Bell said he had not seen a weather event like it for some time.
‘We’ve got one part of the state experiencing the significant rain and then we’ve got another part of the state, particularly metropolitan Melbourne and other parts, experiencing significant wind,’ he told Nine’s Today.
‘As you would have seen from the devastation, it will be days to come in the clean up that’s for sure.’
Downed powerlines are seen in Lilydale, Melbourne on Thursday
A fallen tree is seen on a residential property in Lilydale, Melbourne on Thursday
A severe weather warning for damaging winds remains current for southern parts of Victoria.
In NSW, the regional NSW towns of Orange in the state’s Central West and Oberon in the Central Tablelands have been turned into winter wonderlands.
The cold snap has brought widespread snow in the ranges, with the Perisher Valley receiving a dump of about half a metre.
Sydney is expected to reach only 11C on Thursday as the mercury in some NSW areas dips more than 10 degrees below average for this time of year.
With unseasonable low temperatures in Queensland as well, the Sunshine State’s Granite Belt had also expected a rare dusting of snow.
Pictured: Tree ripped from the roots in Yarra Valley
Pictured: Tree ripped from the roots in Yarra Valley
EVACUATION ORDERS FOR VICTORIA:
If you live, work, or are holidaying in the Traralgon Creek area you should evacuate now.
Floodwaters are rapidly rising.
Anyone in these areas near Traralgon Creek strongly advised to evacuate:
Flooding is expected to impact Milton Court, Tennyson Street, Moonabeal Court, Booth Court, Whittakers Road between Shakespeare Street and Princes Street, Davidson Street from the Traralgon Creek to Peterkin Street, Willow Court, George Street, Berry Street, Peterkin Street, Munro Street between George Street and Peterkin Street, Couchs Lane.
MAJOR FLOOD WARNINGS
What you should do if you are in a major flood warning area:
Travel to a safe location. Options include:
The home of family or friends who live in a safe location, away from flooding.
A relief centre that has been opened at Traralgon Basketball Stadium, Garibaldi Street, Traralgon.
This centre has been set up to triage evacuees to determine whether or not ongoing assistance is required including accommodation.
Floodwater is toxic – never play or swim in floodwater.
Floodwater is dangerous – never drive, walk or ride through floodwater.
If floodwater enters your home or you become isolated, move to higher ground by stepping on top of tables, chairs, benches and beds.
When you leave remember to take your pets, mobile phone and medications.
If you are travelling by car:
Do not enter flooded areas. Turn around to find a safe alternative route.
For road closure information go to traffic.vicroads.vic.gov.au/ or call 131 170.
Floodwater is dangerous – never drive through floodwater.
If you stay:
If you choose to stay, emergency services may not be able to help you.
Shelter in the highest location possible.
This warning is current to 10/06/2021 12:40 pm. If you do not evacuate before this time, your property may be isolated or inundated and it may be too late to leave.
Impacts in your area:
Flooding above floor level of a single story home will occur.
Evacuating too late or choosing to remain in your home when recommended to evacuate is dangerous and may put your life at risk.
Areas near the affected location may lose services including power, water, sewerage and telephone due to flooding.
Evacuation of homes is required.
This message was issued by State Emergency Service.
MODERATE FLOOD WARNINGS
Goulburn River, Mitchell River
Gippsland and parts of Northeast and central Victoria
INITIAL MINOR FLOOD WARNING
Bunyip River, Dandenong Creek, Maribyrnong River, Werribee River
But it has been a no-show so far over the peaks around Stanthorpe, with current conditions too dry.
There is also potential for major flooding in the state’s east, with the Bureau of Meteorology warning about a system intensifying on Wednesday and Thursday.
‘The last time we saw flooding of this (potential) magnitude through parts of west Gippsland was around 2012,’ Bureau of Meteorology Senior Forecaster Tom Delamotte said.
He added it was ‘quite unusual’ for this time of year.
A tree fell on the road in Emerald, an area of Melbourne heavily affected by the storm
Emerald, Sorrento and Gisborne on the outskirts of Melbourne were the worst affected areas
Rapid intensifying of a low-pressure system will bring more heavy rain to the state
FIVE DAY WEATHER IN YOUR CITY
Friday: Min 7. Max 17
Saturday: Min 9. Max 19
Sunday: Min 8. Max 19
Monday: Min 8. Max 19
Tuesday: Min 10. Max. 18
Friday: Min 6. Max 16
Saturday: Min 9. Max 15
Sunday: Min 9. Max 16
Monday: Min 8. Max 15
Tuesday: Min 7. Max 15
Friday: Min 2. Max 13
Saturday: Min 2. Max 11
Sunday: Min 0. Max 13
Monday: Min 0. Max 13
Tuesday: Min 2. Max 13
Friday: Min 18. Max 31
Saturday: Min 17. Max 30
Sunday: Min 18. Max 31
Monday: Min 19. Max 30
Tuesday: Min 20. Max 30
Friday: Min 8. Max 20
Saturday: Min 8. Max 22
Sunday: Min 8. Max 22
Monday: Min 9. Max 22
Tuesday: Min 12. Max 23
Friday: Min 9. Max 17
Saturday: Min 10. Max 17
Sunday: Min 9. Max 17
Monday: Min 10. Max 17
Tuesday: Min 10. Max 19
Friday: Min 11. Max 20
Saturday: Min 9. Max 20
Sunday: Min 8. Max 20
Monday: Min 9. Max 19
Tuesday: Min 6. Max 19
Friday: Min 13. Max 15
Saturday: Min 13. Max 16
Sunday: Min 11. Max 15
Monday: Min 9. Max 15
Tuesday: Min 8. Max 13
Source: Bureau of Meteorology