Thousands of Victorians woke in the cold and dark for the second morning in a row on Friday after wild weather cut power to properties across Melbourne’s outer-east, Gippsland and Central Victoria.
Hundreds who were evacuated from their homes in Traralgon spent the night with friends and family or in hotels.
COVID-19 restrictions prevented them from staying in an evacuation centre.
Gippsland residents have described the storm as the worst they’ve seen.
Latrobe Valley farmer Thomas Beamish said he had never seen anything like Thursday’s conditions.
“I’ve lived here all my life and, nah, we’ve never seen it,” Mr Beamish said.
Police are also appealing for the community’s assistance as they ramp up their search for missing woman Nina in the Simpson area in south-west Victoria.
The 20-year-old left her Simpson address about 8.20am on Thursday and was expected to arrive at her workplace in Glenfyne about half an hour later.
But she never arrived and has not been seen or heard from since, which is extremely out of character.
Police and family hold serious concerns for Nina’s welfare due to the extreme weather, which has flooded roads on her usual route.
Gippsland braces as more rain forecast
Gippsland resident Leah Mether said people were just focused on survival.
“Everyone’s just doing what they can to get through what looks like is going to be a few days of this,” Ms Mether said.
On Thursday, a man in his 60s was found dead at Starlings Lane, near Sale, after police were notified about a car submerged in water.
Latrobe City Council Mayor Sharon Gibson said the danger was not over yet.
“Things have eased a bit but we’re due for more rain,” Cr Gibson said.
Emergency services and volunteers worked into Thursday night clearing roads and restoring power.
AusNet said it could take up to a week for power to be restored to some homes.
SES commander Jackson Bell said they had spent the night preparing for another “big day” of wild weather.
“Yesterday, was pretty busy for our crews … a number of flood rescues undertaken yesterday,” Mr Bell said.
“We will continue to have a presence in the area. Over the coming days, there is a risk of further rainfall, which might lead to further rises in the area.
“We are watching it pretty intently over the next 24 hours.”
Mr Bell said they received about 50 calls to move livestock to higher ground, using our boats and vehicles.
He said the focus remained on restoring power and getting people back to their homes.
“This morning our attention remains at restoring power,” he said.
“We know there are parts in Trentham, eastern metropolitan Melbourne, the Yarra Ranges and Dandenong still without power,” he said.
“Approximately 160,000 people are still without power.
“This weather system has caused widespread devastation across parts of our states. Some of those issues are complex and broad.”
He said their focus remained on enabling service providers to access the infrastructure to restore power.
“There are still powerlines down,” Mr Bell said.
“[It’s] another hazard that is hindering our job at the moment.”
He said hundreds of volunteers were assisting with the efforts.
Flooding concerns remain
Another burst of wet weather is developing over eastern Victoria through Friday, and is expected to intensify into the night.
Totals aren’t expected to be as big as the falls that caused major flooding in western Gippsland.
The “nuisance” falls won’t significantly add to flood levels, but they will slow the decline in river levels and could cause problems for emergency services still dealing with widespread damage.
The low-pressure system that has caused the wild weather will move away this weekend, with conditions settling from Saturday afternoon.
Flooding remains a concern for some downstream communities throughout the weekend as the water moves towards the ocean.