6 January 2022

More than 1000 homes and businesses still without power in ACT as another storm rolls in

| Max O'Driscoll
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Fallen tree in Canberra suburb from storm

Severe storms hit the ACT this week, and more wild weather is on the way according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Photo: Melanie Broadbent.

The ACT Government has today (Thursday, 6 January) provided an update on its response to the recent storm damage in the Territory as the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the Canberra region.

Onsite at the ACT Rural Fire Service facility in Higgins, ACT Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry said it is important not to underestimate the resilience and kindness shown within the Canberra community after severe storms hit the region on the evening of Monday, 3 January.

Ms Berry hopes goodwill in the community will continue as the ACT Emergency Services Agency and Evoenergy continue storm recovery work during the coming days.

“As of 6 am this morning, there have been 863 requests for assistance, and 720 of those have already been completed and closed,” she said.

“I understand from Evoenergy that approximately 1665 homes and businesses remain without power. Our emergency services are working with our colleagues across the ACT to get everyone’s power back on as soon as they can.

“Because there are so many people still without internet access and electricity, if neighbours just pop in next door or if they have family nearby who can just check in and provide some of the information that’s being updated for the community I think that would be really helpful and well received.”

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Ms Berry said Evoenergy expects some homes to be without power until late tomorrow, but cautioned it could take longer.

The ACT Rural Fire Service facility in Higgins will be open to provide charging stations, ice packs and a place to dispose of any food that may have been spoilt during the past three days.

Ms Berry encouraged Canberrans to “be as prepared as you possibly can be” with more storms set to hit the region in the coming days.

BOM says thunderstorms are possible – with varying likelihood levels – during the next three days, but becoming less likely heading into the weekend.

BOM engagement officer Morgan Pumpa said due to the nature of the storms, it is essential Canberrans continue to check the BOM website for updates on weather warnings in their area.

While the weather warning lists only heavy rainfall as the most likely result of the storm, after the recent hail event in the ACT, BOM is closely monitoring weather activity.

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“[Hail] is not expected to happen,” said Ms Pumpa.

“However, if people are travelling around over the weekend, it’s good to check because there are parts of the Riverina and other areas around the ranges that could possibly see some hail.”

While the expectation is storm activity will ease by the middle of the weekend, it is predicted to return to the ACT region early next week.

“There is a bit of respite coming shortly, but the rain will return next week so we expect to see wetter weather at the moment because of the La Nina,” said Ms Pumpa.

“Again, that lowered position of the inland trough combined with the high-pressure system over the Tasman is bringing this wet weather, and we will see during the next week that it will hang around.”

During the next week, the temperature will remain in the mid-to-high 20s, peaking on Monday, 10 January, at 30 degrees Celsius.

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My home was one of those still without power when this article was published. I feel fortunate to have had it restored by the end of the day, after three days without power, as there are some people still waiting at the end of day 6. I felt like we were living in a different universe this week for all the rest of Canberra noticed, but I agree with Yvette Berry’s comments about the kindness of the community.

Keeping in touch and sharing updates through our community facebook group helped enormously. I got far more information that way than through any official source. People who still had power set up power boards and chairs at the front of their house so those without could come and charge their phones or bring a kettle and make a cup of tea. People offered access to showers and washing machines, and to cook meals for families who’d had enough of takeaway food. Our local community is wonderful.

I’ve gone through floods and cyclones, and I’ve never seen worse communication or a more lacklustre emergency response than this one.

Surprise surprise. Fallen gum trees and power losses.

In my street, every nature strip has recently received a “free” gum tree, because we don’t have enough street tree canopy.

My gutters and drains are continually full of gum tree leaves. At the high end of the house (6 metres off the ground), I paid to have gutter guard installed. The rest, I’m still up a ladder to clean the gutters.

Thankfully, our house has underground power, but it also has underground stormwater. Guess where the neighbour’s gum tree roots ended up? Yes in our storm water drains. The Government refused an application to have the tree removed. Cost to us to replace the storm water line $7,000.

It doesn’t matter how much damage they do your property or inconvenience they cause because firstly, they are a tree and secondly they are native to the area and support the local ecology.

I hate gum trees and would vote for ANY party who ran on a platform of allowing home owners remove their gum trees.

Half of what the Bureau of Meteorology predicts is wrong. The problem is we don’t know which half.

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