Wild weather on Boxing Day

Tarra Valley Road was left resembling a creek.Photo: Helen Jeges

Stefan Bradley, Ben McArthur and Katrina Brandon

“WHAT was that?” This was a common phrase heard at 5am on Boxing Day across the region after loud storms came crashing down.

For Sale, the rain began on Tuesday morning, with 80 millimetres of rain recorded between 5am and 11am waking up many sleepy residents. About half of that rain fell within an hour.

The Sale SES began distributing sandbags on Tuesday morning on Union Street to help people mitigate storm water damage.

SES State Duty Media Officer Tracey White said that the strong winds and heavy rain led to 108 SES requests for the Gippsland region by 3pm.

From Orbost to Yarram, the weather affected multiple areas, causing treacherous driving conditions.

Locations such as Sale, Morwell, Traralgon, Moe, Bairnsdale and other surrounding areas were under a ‘Watch and Act’ warning by VicEmergency.

“The rain has been pretty localised, so don’t assume it’s fine where you’re headed – it seems like Sale to Yarram to Foster and the Eastern Strzeleckis have really copped it,” posted Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien.

The Hyland Highway and South Gippsland Hwy were flooded, limiting travel across the region. Hazel Park Road, north of Toora, had a sinkhole form in the road, and Tarra Valley Road and the Tarra River virtually became one. Even the newly opened Tyers Bridge Road received damage but remained open.

“A few major roads closed at 9am Wednesday, including the South Gippy Highway at Alberton and the Hyland Highway, so take care out there – check for updates,” Mr O’Brien added.

On the afternoon of December 27, VicRoads advised that Tarra Valley Road was closed between Grand Ridge Road and Baxters Road due to road damage.

On Boxing Day, there were reports of a woman swept into a flood waters in Buchan. Who was found dead after the floods receded at 6.45pm. The circumstances surrounding her death are yet to be established, and an investigation is ongoing.

With roads still underwater, people are urged to stay safe and not drive through flood waters as there might be lurking dangers beneath. Locals are also encouraged to help clean up areas to prevent other accidents.

Federal member for Gippsland, Darren Chester warned locals of the risks post flood.

“I understand there’s been significant damage to houses and public infrastructure. Please take care, everyone. The clean-up after major storms can be as dangerous as the event with fallen trees and damaged roads. Huge thanks to emergency service workers and volunteers involved in helping Gippslanders and holidaymakers during these storms,” said Mr Chester.

For more weather and warning information, visit bom.gov.au/ and emergency.vic.gov.au/respond/

For more information on closed roads, go to traffic.vicroads.vic.gov.au