Storm leaves trail of destruction

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Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

Storm leaves trail of destruction

The clean-up in Millicent will continue today (Thursday) in the wake of Tuesday night’s suspected tornado.

High winds, hail and torrential rain struck just before 6pm and continued for several minutes.

It caused many hundreds of mature trees to either lose limbs, have branches snapped or be uprooted outright.

A farm machinery shed on Belt Road collapsed, a Blackwood Road house lost its roof while the shed housing the Millicent racecourse starting stalls was also damaged.

Numerous power lines were brought down in the freak storm and many local properties suffered outages which lasted well into yesterday (Wednesday).

The worst-affected area was Woodlands which is also known as the ‘six-acre blocks’.

According to a Bureau of Meteorology spokesperson, the weather pattern and the resultant damage suggested it was a tornado.

The first call to the State Emergency Service was logged at 5.55pm and personnel from the SES, Wattle Range Council, CFS and SA Power Networks promptly responded.

SES volunteers from Mount Gambier and District, South East Operations Support and Millicent Units as well as six CFS brigades responded to more than 25 jobs in Millicent.

Most of the requests for assistance were to clear fallen trees which were blocking roads.

Tuesday night’s events had a double impact on the day-to-day life of Millicent resident and Lake McIntyre Management Committee volunteer Noel Boyle.

He called the emergency services after the roof tiles on his Matheson Road house were lifted by the gale force winds.

Mr Boyle was pleased the SES personnel were quickly on the scene to put the tiles back in place.

However, the remedial tasks for Mr Boyle and his fellow Lake McIntyre volunteers are much greater.

Numerous decades-old trees were blown over and so Mr Boyle said the decision was taken to close the popular locale to the public for the time being.

“The volunteers were here on Wednesday morning to begin the clean-up,” Mr Boyle said.

“We will be helped by the council workers.

“I have arranged to cancel the toilet contract cleaners and advised the local visitor information centres that Lake McIntyre is currently closed.”

Wattle Range Council chief executive Ben Gower said his crews worked through Tuesday night to clear roads and address any immediate risks to property owners.

Mr Gower said there is still a considerable amount of work to be done.

He said the emergency services and others involved in the clean-up have asked bystanders and spectators to stay away from the area.

“In response to the storm, council has opened the Millicent Resource Recovery Centre from 9am until 4pm daily through to this Sunday for construction, demolition, and general waste disposal,” Mr Gower said.

“Waste vouchers will not be required over this period; however, we would like to remind members of the community that we are unable to accept asbestos, cement sheeting or gyprock.

“Unfortunately, the Millicent Resource Recovery Centre is already at maximum capacity for green waste, so we will be opening the Millicent Saleyards from 8am until 4pm to enable trailers loads of clean green waste to be disposed of in response to Tuesday night’s storm.

“We will keep both of these facilities open until at least this Sunday where we will reassess their ongoing need.

“This material will then be mulched and returned to the community as part of council’s free mulch program.

“Members of the community are reminded … the fire season is active and that fire permits are required before any waste material can be burned.

“Council is working with landowners and contractors to find suitable locations to deposit larger trees that are unable to be mulched so they can be burned at a later date once the fire season has concluded.”

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