More than 4,000 homes in Victoria are still without power after storms and flooding ravaged the state more than a week ago, with more than 1,000 homes to remain without power until 10 July.
The storm that ravaged the Dandenong Ranges took out power for 56,000 homes when the bad weather hit on 9 June.
The energy minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, told reporters on Saturday that, subject to high winds expected this weekend, more than 3,000 of the 4,000-plus remaining homes without power will be reconnected by the end of the weekend, and almost 200 more by Friday next week.
She said 1,450 homes would remain without power until 10 July.
Energy provider AusNet said earlier this week the most affected areas included Ferny Creek, Kalorama, Mount Dandenong, Olinda, Sassafras, Sherbrooke, The Basin, Tremont and Upwey could be without power for several more weeks.
The Victorian government will make available 200 small generators to homes that will remain without power until 10 July, D’Ambrosio announced.
“And what is important here, of course, is that these generators are large enough to be able to provide about eight kilowatts of power, which will be sufficient to run a number of lights in a home, a small heater and enable Victorians to be able to get back a little more of a comfort, if you like, within their homes until they are reconnected,” she said.
“These generators will come with a start-up kit that includes, of course, some fuel, [a] jerry can, connection leads and importantly safety instructions in terms of how to operate the small generators.”
Half of the generators will be supplied by Bunnings, and the generators needed to be brought in from New South Wales due to people making their own arrangements to buy generators draining the supply in Victoria. The generators will be made available through Windermere Family Services.
People without power in Victoria can also apply for a $1,680 payment, and AusNet has reported around 100 households have so far made an application. AusNet will send text messages to eligible households, but D’Ambrosio said people should not wait for the message, and apply on the AusNet website if they were an affected household.
The emergency management commissioner, Andrew Crisp, said of the 2,075 homes assessed following the storms, 126 had been determined to be uninhabitable, while 186 were damaged but inhabitable.
He advised “sticky beaks” to stay out of the Dandenong Ranges area this weekend.
“I will sent out a strong, clear message that it is dangerous up there, please stay away … We don’t want the sticky beaks. You will get in the way of emergency services.”
More than 600km of roads had been reopened since the storms, but Crisp warned up to 30mm of rain expected in the area by the end of next week could bring down already-weakened trees.
The Australian Defence Force had been working with the thousands of emergency services crew since last Wednesday, and 120 more personnel would be deployed in the coming days following a request from the Victorian government on Friday night.
The personnel would be responsible for tree removal, road access and then the relief response.