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Power outages, fallen trees and flash flooding after thunderstorm tears through Canberra

Lachlan Roberts 9 January 2019

Emergency services responded to 86 calls for help from the Canberra community. Photos: Supplied by ACT State Emergency Service.

The thunderstorm that hit Canberra on Tuesday afternoon (8 January) felled power lines, tore down trees, cut power in numerous suburbs and even interrupted local radio station broadcasts, leaving emergency services with the onerous task of mopping up after the deluge.

Heavy rain and wind gusts reached over 80km per hour, and emergency services responded to 86 calls for help from the Canberra community. The majority of calls were due to fallen trees. Crews were also called to deal with leaking roofs and flash flooding.

SES volunteers worked alongside ACT Fire & Rescue, Transport Canberra and City Services, Access Canberra Call Centre, Rural Fire Service and ACTEWAGL to clean up all jobs before midnight.

ESA reported power lines were down in Narrabundah, Hughes, Fisher, Flynn and Kaleen while Red Hill, Kaleen, Mitchell, Griffith, Kambah, Weston and Crace were hit with power outages.

The storm also interrupted transmission from local radio stations 2CC and 2CA yesterday afternoon after a tree fell on power lines near its Mitchell studio, causing the broadcasters to play pre-recorded music for more than an hour.

Majority of the calls were due to fallen trees.

Majority of the calls were due to fallen trees.

An Emergency Service Agency spokesperson said that all units have now been stood down as jobs caused by the storm have been completed.

“The team would like to thank ACT Fire & Rescue, ACT Rural Fire Service, Transport Canberra and City Services for their assistance,” an ESA spokesperson said.

“ACTSES remind the Canberra community to be storm ready and to visit the ESA website for information on how to prepare for a storm.”

To be storm ready, state emergency service advises that people should: 

  • Move vehicles under cover or away from trees;
  • Secure or put away loose items around your house, yard and balcony;
  • Keep at least 8 metres away from fallen power lines or objects that may be energised, such as fences;
  • Clean your gutters, downpipes and drains regularly to prevent blockages
  • Trim trees and branches that could potentially fall on your home or property
  • Fix any damage to your roof including broken or missing tiles
  • Check your insurance policy is current and adequate
  • Make a plan for your family that outlines what you would do in an emergency
  • Prepare an emergency kit in case you lose power or need to leave your home
  • Report fallen power lines to either Ausgrid on 131 388, or Endeavour Energy on 131 003 or Essential Energy on 132 080, as shown on your power bill; and
  • For emergency help in floods and storms, ring your local SES Unit on 132 500.

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