Melbourne residents hit by devastating storms told they will not have power for three more weeks

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Melbourne residents hit by last week’s violent storms have been told to prepare to be without power for another three weeks in the middle of winter.

The storms hit the state on Wednesday night and into Thursday last week, destroying homes, cutting off roads and plunging communities into blackouts.

Energy provider AusNet has confirmed residents in the worst-affected areas of the Dandenong Ranges, on Melbourne’s outer-eastern fringe, “should prepare to be without power for the next three weeks”.

“The initial estimates provided to customers were wrong. We are deeply sorry,” the company said in a social media update.

AusNet said the delays would affect 3,000 customers in Ferny Creek, Kalorama, Mount Dandenong, Olinda, Sassafras, Sherbrooke, The Basin, Tremont and Upwey.

Residents were told on Tuesday that the bulk of the state would be back on the grid by this Sunday.

The revised date for power to return is July 10.

The restoration times for other customers in the area have also been revised, with AusNet telling people to visit the outage tracker website to check on the progress.

“Please contact your local council for your nearest relief centre, where you can access power and hot showers,” the company said.

Earlier, Yarra Valley Water issued a directive to people in the towns of Kallista, Sherbrooke and The Patch to not drink their tap water because of storm damage.

The water supplier anticipated the warning would be in place for at least three days and affect about 700 properties.

Emergency water supplies were delivered to the areas on Wednesday.

Some residents in the area had criticised AusNet, saying information about the power outages had been insufficient or inaccurate. Text messages were sent to residents saying power would be returned at times it was not.

Mount Dandenong resident Gail told ABC Radio Melbourne on Wednesday morning the worst part about the past week had been a lack of communication.

“Don’t tell us that at 12 o’clock on Sunday the power is going to be restored when there are power cords still hanging in trees and lying on the roads,” she said before the updated timeline was announced.

“All of us are feeling the frustration because we aren’t getting this information.”

AusNet’s executive general manager of network management, Steven Neave, admitted on Wednesday morning communication had been an issue.

He told ABC Radio Melbourne the scale of the damage to the infrastructure was unprecedented, with some areas having to be assessed by helicopter.

The storms hit Gippsland in the state’s east and Melbourne’s outer east last week, leaving two people dead in flood waters.

An emergency Cabinet meeting was scheduled for Wednesday to respond to the disaster.

(Original ABC Article)