Report finds lessons in wake of storm

Emergency Management Victoria is looking into lessons from last year's storms that tore through Gippsland. file photograph

Michelle Slater

EMERGENCY Management Victoria is working to improve understanding extreme weather forecasts after last year’s severe June storms destroyed parts of the state.

EMV released its June 2021 Extreme Weather Event Community Report, looking at the learnings and community impacts from last year’s storms and floods.

The extreme storm ravaged parts of Latrobe City, Wellington and Baw Baw shires, with floods inundating homes in Traralgon and savage winds devastating the surrounding ranges.

The review was informed with the help of 2000 observations gathered from affected community members, community meetings and emergency service personnel.

It found 11 lessons, including complexities surrounding public information and warnings due to power and telco outages, and a lack of awareness around flood and storm preparation.

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp acknowledged these challenges, stating they had reviewed command and control arrangements, clean-up and transition to recovery processes and how communities could access financial support.

“We’ve been working to ensure we have access to better intelligence based on accessing and understanding extreme weather forecasts alongside other available data and information,” Commissioner Crisp said.

“We are working with the relevant agencies, departments and stakeholders on an implementation plan and continue to progress all key priorities outlined in the community report.

“Victoria’s emergency management sector will continue to learn and improve together as we strive to do our best working with communities before, during and after emergencies.”

Latrobe City Council mayor Kellie O’Callaghan said council was in the process of reviewing the report in greater detail to understand the key learnings.

“We’d like to acknowledge the contribution of community members and agencies to the report,” Cr O’Callaghan said.

“This feedback will help to further guide the recovery process and strengthen the approach taken by all agencies to future emergencies.”

Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath labelled the review as “highly disappointing” by failing to make tangible recommendations or outlining timelines for system improvements.

“Latrobe Valley barely rates a mention in the report, despite experiencing a major flood event in Traralgon and severe storm damage to Yinnar, Boolarra and the broader Gippsland area,” Ms Bath said.

“The review did not to include any measurable recommendations for EMV to ensure the gaps in the system will be fixed and community confidence restored.”