News State Victoria News Victoria seeks more Defence help for storm clean-up

Victoria seeks more Defence help for storm clean-up

victoria storm adf
Clean-up crews clear fallen powerlines in Olinda, east of Melbourne. Thousands of Victorian homes are still without power. Photo: AAP
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Victoria will ask for another 120 Australian Defence Force personnel as the state cleans up after last week’s storm.

Acting Premier James Merlino said the request would be made later on Friday, with some ADF members already in the state to help with planning and logistics.

He said the extra personnel would be used for road clearance, general clean-up, community assurance and doorknocking.

Mr Merlino also announced the Commonwealth would contribute half to the $1680 weekly power outage payments for those hardest hit by the storms.

The payment will be administered by Ausnet to help families buy supplies if they are staying at home without power or to help pay for alternative accommodation.

Some storm-affected residents will be without power for three weeks.

As of 7am on Friday, Mr Merlino said there were still 5634 households without power, mainly in the Dandenong Ranges.

Of those, 4629 are expected to have power restored by Sunday.

Mr Merlino said there were about 1000 personnel helping with the clean-up operation.

Asked why it had taken more than a week to get ADF help, Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp explained authorities had needed time to assess the level of damage and what exactly the ADF could help with.

“There is no point requesting 1000 ADF resources if you don’t know what you are going to do with them,” he said.

“The time is right now.”

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said earlier on Friday the Commonwealth would likely heed Victoria’s request.

“We’ll give it due consideration. In the past … I don’t think they’ve found that we’ve rejected requests,” he told 3AW.

Meanwhile, Melbourne residents have been told to steer clear of storm-ravaged regions.

With the COVID-induced ban on regional travel lifting on Friday, many Melburnians are itching to hit the road this weekend.

Mr Crisp has cautioned them against a trip to the Dandenong Ranges and parts of Gippsland, which were hit by devastating floods and storms last week.

As well as road closures, many national parks have been shut after being deemed inaccessible or dangerous.

The Dandenong and Yarra ranges national parks and 11 others in Victoria’s east are among the long list off-limits to visitors.

Some 1868 homes across the state have been assessed so far, with 119 properties considered uninhabitable and 112 damaged.

A state energy emergency has also been declared due to fears the Yallourn mine could flood as cracks form and place additional pressure on its walls.

Residents of Kallista, Sherbrooke and The Patch in the Yarra Ranges are still being told not to drink tap water, even if it is boiled, due to contamination.

The Bureau of Meteorology is warning of gusty winds in eastern Victoria for Friday night and Saturday morning, including in previously storm-damaged areas.