This spring, electricity distributor Powercor and the Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) are urging Victorians to prepare for a high risk spring season ahead, with the increased potential of storms, floods and power outages.
Victoria’s emergency management agencies last week declared spring to be a “higher risk weather season”, with predictions of wetter than average conditions from September through to November.
With the memories of last June and October’s storms still fresh in the minds of many Victorians, households and communities are being urged to prepare for the impacts of severe weather, from
The potential of storms, damaging winds and heavy rain to power outages and flooded roads.
As well as this, the Bureau of Meteorology has moved the ENSO Outlook to La Nina Alert, meaning the chance of La Nina forming in the coming months has increased to about 70 per cent.
VICSES Chief Officer Operations, Tim Wiebusch urged residents to be flood and storm ready.
“VICSES volunteers are highly trained and will be ready and prepared to respond to requests for assistance to flood and storm events as required, however we are asking communities to also prepare. Make sure you stay informed, and listen to the advice of emergency services as warnings are issued.”
“We’re also asking communities to have a plan in place. Start conversations with your family and household to discuss your options in the event of a storm or severe weather event or storm.”
“If you have not yet done so, now is a good time to develop your personalised storm and flood emergency plan for your home and property. Especially in the instance of a power outage, ensure to have a backup battery operated radio and flash light as part of your emergency kit,” Mr Wiebusch said.
“Having a plan means that when the time to act comes you can think clearly and make better decisions”, he said.
“Get ready before the rain falls. We know this spring is expected to be wetter than average. Understanding your risk and early preparation is the best defence against storms that may result in flooding”.
“If you ever come across floodwater, it’s vital you never enter it. It can take just 15cm of water for a small car to float or lose traction, it may be the last decision you ever make”, he said.
Powercor’s Richard Scholten said while field crews worked year-round conducting critical maintenance, inspections and vegetation clearing to keep the network as safe and reliable as possible, customers also had an important role to play.
“Spring brings more frequent thunderstorms and those conditions, particularly the wind and lighting, can damage poles and wires and cause power outages,” Mr Scholten said.
“When these events occur, we work closely with VICSES and other emergency response agencies to respond as quickly and as safely as possible to restore power for our customers.
“For example, when large trees fall over roads and block access, VICSES will remove them, supporting us to get to fault locations safely and quickly.
“Given the forecasts, we’re asking customers to be as prepared as possible for power outages in case they do occur, because as we saw last Spring, the impacts can be significant.”
Powercor has also launched its new Mobile Emergency Response Vehicle (MERV) which will be used to support local communities during emergencies and prolonged power outages.
The vehicle will provide a central hub for Powercor to provide localised updates, and has on board a generator, flood lighting and phone charging facilities for residents.
“We built this vehicle after last year’s major storms caused widespread and extensive damage to power infrastructure.
“MERV is about providing a central hub for residents to meet with Powercor representatives and get first-hand information about what’s happening in their areas during major storm events.
“Since last year’s storms we’ve also improved our customers communications, including our estimated restoration times, and we’ve continued to work with telcos and emergency agencies to improve our preparation and response to major events.
“Customers can also now visit our website and choose how they receive updates about outages in a way that works for them.”
A range of tips for preparing for and dealing with a power outage during extreme weather can be found below:
Have a contingency plan ready if you rely on life support equipment or need electrical items to care for babies, the disabled, elderly or pets.
This will ensure you can still communicate with friends and family, get updates about when power will be restored or reach emergency services when needed.
ATMs and EFTPOS can be affected by electricity outages so have some money available to pay for food or other supplies if need be.
Make sure important computer-based records for your home, study or work are backed up and if necessary, saved on a storage device kept in a secure location.
Check that any available alternative energy sources for powering water pumps and equipment or cooking, are fuelled and operational. This includes diesel generators, BBQs and battery powered lamps or torches. Make sure you know how to open garage doors and gates manually if they don’t have a battery back-up.
Check current warnings and updates at emergency.vic.gov.au and download the VicEmergency app. Register for Powercor SMS alerts to keep track of the situation. Put together an emergency kit with first-aid items, medications, torches, candles, matches, a portable radio and sturdy gloves, and have all emergency phone numbers handy.
Call CitiPower 13 12 80 and Powercor 13 24 12