Wild winds damage

AS wild weather shook the district early Tuesday morning, a number of Gippslanders were woken by the howling winds and rain drops that clattered like needles on a corrugated iron roof.

While many lay wondering whether or not they would get back to sleep before their alarm clocks started to buzz, the State Emergency Service received 60 calls for assistance across the region, with Maffra, Rosedale and Morwell the worst hit.

A 69-year-old Winnindoo man was taken to Central Gippsland Health Service, Sale with significant head and eye injuries after driving into a fallen Cypress tree on Powerscourt St near Morison St in Maffra.

Police said the man was driving north along Powerscourt St at about 5.20am when he struck the difficult to see tree at 60kmh without braking.

The collision dislodged one of its loose branches which fell through the windscreen, injuring the man.

SES crews were called to the scene within 10 minutes, quickly freeing the man.

He has since been transferred to Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital for treatment to his right eye.

There were no other passengers in the car.

Wellington Shire and VicRoads staff also attended the scene, which was cleared by 8am.

According to Victoria SES manager of regional operations Stuart Beales, it was the wind that caused the most damage.

“Wind gusts moved at 100kmh in some parts,” he said.

“Calls kept coming from midnight to midday as the front moved through.”

He said the majority of incidents were in relation to trees on the road and building damage, although in Rosedale power was cut to a large portion of the town when a tree in Princes St fell across the two westbound lanes of the Princes Highway, taking lengths of power lines, arcing and sparking, with it.

The incident was reported to emergency services at 4.20am, and was quickly declared a major hazard.

Traffic was diverted for almost four hours, with one lane of traffic open to drivers by 8.30am once the tree had been chopped back to the curb.

Repairs to power lines continued well into the morning, as SP AusNet staff were called to repair the damage, leaving Rosedale residents without warm breakfasts and much-needed cups of coffee.