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‘Floodwaters rapidly rising’: Evacuation order issued, thousands without power as wild weather hits state

VicEmergency has issued an evacuation notice for anyone living, working or holidaying in the Traralgon Creek area.

“Floodwaters are rapidly rising,” the notice said.

Emergency services have urged residents who live and work near Traralgon Creek in Gippsland to leave and travel to a safe location.

Emergency services have urged residents who live and work near Traralgon Creek in Gippsland to leave and travel to a safe location.Credit:Nine News

A relief centre has opened at the Traralgon basketball Stadium, which will triage evacuees to determine whether they need ongoing support or assistance with accommodation.

Latrobe City Council mayor Sharon Gibson said traffic had become a major problem in Traralgon.

“People who are not affected at all need to stay home,” she said.

Cr Gibson said the Traralgon Creek had risen above 5.3 metres.

At 6.30am, Emergency Victoria had listed 2018 separate incidents and 44 warnings as flood and winds bombarded eastern Victoria.

A woman in Olinda is rescued from her house after a tree landed on it.

A woman in Olinda is rescued from her house after a tree landed on it. Credit:Joe Armao

About 175,000 Victorian homes are without power after extreme winds lashed the state, according to AusNet Services, who said they had never had such a significant outage.

Residents are being warned that power may not be restored until Friday. Powercor is reporting nearly 30,000 outages.

The awnings on department store David Jones on Bourke Street have reportedly been stripped off by the wind.

Emergency crews rescue a woman in Olinda.

Emergency crews rescue a woman in Olinda.Credit:Joe Armao

Baw Baw Shire deputy mayor and proprietor of the Star Hotel in Walhalla, Michael Leaney, said his town was cut off by fallen trees and was without power or mobile reception.

Speaking via a satellite connection, Cr Leaney said it would take some time for the trees to be cleared.

“These are not little sticks,” he said. “These are massive trees.”

He said Stringers Creek, which runs through the town, had burst its banks and a historic structure dating back to the gold rush era had been demolished.

James Pickford was lucky to escape after a large tree smashed through his bedroom, missing his bed by less than a metre in Olinda.

James Pickford was lucky to escape after a large tree smashed through his bedroom, missing his bed by less than a metre in Olinda. Credit:Joe Armao

The CFA has been deployed to remove trees that have blocked roads throughout Victoria. Emergency services are still listing flood warnings throughout Gippsland and Victoria’s east.

Trentham man Jason said the town, which is without power and cut off by felled trees, looked like a cyclone had torn through it.

“There are literally just trees down everywhere, it’s like a cyclone has gone through here, it’s incredible. Powerlines down, there’s shredded tree material life all over the road, it’s just unbelievable,” he told 3AW.

“We’ve been clearing trees as well since six o’clock, but the CFA have been working all night.”

Another 3AW caller from the Yarra Valley described the damage as “absolute carnage”.

“Trees down everywhere and power lines across roads everywhere, and we weren’t getting the power back on any time soon either.”

Vicky said horse shelters have been blown to the ground.

Sergeant Newman said the damage was so widespread and extensive that emergency services were having trouble reaching people injured in the storm.

The ceiling of a Lilydale house collapses.

The ceiling of a Lilydale house collapses.Credit:Nine News Melbourne

She said that police had to trek more than 1.5 kilometres to rescue a woman from Olinda with a head injury after they became trapped by trees falling in the surrounding area.

“They trekked over one-and-a-half kilometres through this weather [with] the risk of other trees falling,” she said.

“They’ve made their way to this woman and child and were able to walk them out … the CFA had to clear the trees before they could leave.”

Ambulance Victoria confirmed a paramedic escaped injury after a tree crushed his vehicle in Sherbrooke overnight.

A tree blocks a road in Croydon.

A tree blocks a road in Croydon.Credit:Nine News Melbourne

Ambulance crews had been sent to Olinda after reports the woman and her son were trapped by a tree that had fallen on their house about 11pm on Wednesday.

But a falling tree struck the back of the paramedic’s car and also blocked the path of an advanced life support ambulance crew.

Police were also isolated by fallen trees but were able to walk to the home of the mother and son. They met paramedics at Sherbrooke who took the pair to Maroondah Hospital in a stable condition.

A ceiling in Lilydale, in Melbourne’s outer north eastern suburbs, had buckled and collapsed, according to Nine News Melbourne.

Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Miriam Bradbury said consistent strong winds had caused damage across the state.

“We’ve had strong, sustained winds throughout the night … even though we’ve only had a few gusts over 90km/h the fact that they were strong throughout the night is what was significant,” she said.

She said winds had started to ease on Thursday morning but the bureau had recorded highs last night of 85km/h at Moorabbin and Melbourne Airport.

Ambulance Victoria confirmed a paramedic escaped injury after a tree crushed his vehicle in Sherbrooke overnight.

Ambulance crews had been sent to Olinda after reports a woman and her son were trapped by a tree that had fallen on their house about 11pm on Wednesday.

But a falling tree struck the back of the paramedic’s car and also blocked the path of an advanced life support ambulance crew.

Police were also isolated by fallen trees but were able to walk to the home of the mother and son. They met paramedics at Sherbrooke who took the pair to Maroondah Hospital in a stable condition.

Gippsland South MP Danny O’Brien said while the next 24 hours would be difficult for his community, he urged people to remain patient.

The SES is still listing flood warnings throughout Gippsland and Victoria’s east.

“Please don’t try and drive through floodwaters. I just saw one of my local fire brigades already had three callouts this morning for people stuck in their cars trying to drive through floodwaters,” Mr O’Brien said outside Parliament House.

“Our emergency services have got enough to do without having to try and deal with these issues that can be avoided.”

Mr O’Brien said the situation throughout Gippsland was pretty serious, with thousands of trees down, flash flooding, and that Traralgon “looking like it’s already going underwater” with a local creek flooding.

There are flood warnings for the Macalister, Thomson and Avon rivers. “I’m heading now from Parliament to home to keep an eye out on it, and hope for the best, and hope it’s not as bad as forecast, but certainly there are areas pretty badly hit,” Mr O’Brien said.

East Gippsland mayor Mendy Urie said the weather had now calmed in Bairnsdale where the SES had set up a control centre.

“It rained heavily overnight,” she said.

Cr Urie said she was not aware of any major flooding in the region but authorities would monitor the situation in coming days as water runs down from the high country.

Transport Infrastructure Minister and Bendigo East MP Jacinta Allan said central Victoria had also been badly hit with wild weather overnight.

“Reports from home this morning advise there has been a really wild night go through central Victoria – a lot of wind damage, a lot of trees down on roads, a lot of dangerous conditions, really,” Ms Allan said outside Parliament House.

“And we’ve got to remember that during the night we had hard-working emergency services out there … responding to these callouts and we really do thank them for the work they do in highly dangerous conditions. There’s a lot to do over the course of today, and we really thank them for their great work.”

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