Sixteen days without power: Meet the Mount Dandenong residents adjusting to life off the grid

 In Home News Section, Uncategorized

More than two weeks after Victoria’s severe storms, the low hum of generators can be heard across the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne.

That’s because hundreds of homes in the area are still without power.

One of those homes is the Dawson household in Mount Dandenong.

The sprawling tree-lined property is home to Tony, Leanne and their two dogs.

Since the power’s been out, Tony Dawson has started each morning with a torch-lit walk in the freezing cold to a diesel generator.

The machine lets out a harsh revving sound when switched on, and provides just enough power for a fridge, two lamps and a kettle.

“Here’s my bedside table light I put up here so we can see things,” Tony says.

“They’re the only lights we’ve got in the house.”

Heating the large house is also an issue.

“It’s very cold out here in the Dandenongs — about 4 or 5 degrees.

“I’m going to light the fire, which is the only source of heat we have.

“I’m getting pretty good at this.”

It’s now been 16 days since the Dawsons have been able to switch on the lights.

The novelty is starting to wear thin.

“I feel just slightly stressed all the time. Very tense, ” Leanne says.

To keep his photography business ticking over, Tony has had to travel to the local football club to access the internet.

“I take my laptop down and get on there and download my emails.”

And Leanne has had to re-organise her days.

“The most difficult thing for me to do is trying to figure out how to do things without power.

“For instance, I’ve got to go down to the laundromat in Monbulk and that takes about three hours, that’s three hours out of your day that’s gone.

“And we haven’t had any internet, so I have no idea how the kids are going other than phone calls.”

Not all members of the household are finding it so tough though.

Hundreds of dollars’ worth of meat that was lost when the Dawsons’ fridges lost power is being turned into dog food.

Leanne chats to her dog whilst shuffling through the freezer.

“Look at all this meat. It’s all going to get cooked up for you because it went off.”

Bitterly cold, but learning to cope

Though their house remains dark, Tony and Leanne are trying to look on the bright side.

“We’ve met people we’ve never met before and talk to our neighbours more, so there are positives,” Tony says.

“I see how hard the crews are working and it’s looking a hell of a lot better than the day after the storms,” Leanne adds.

“We have to be patient. There’s no use jumping up and down and saying ‘poor me’, because you’ve just got to endure it.”

Power provider AusNet Services has crews working around the clock to restore power, and every day more homes are getting back online.

But despite this progress, it concedes it could be weeks until everyone in the Dandenong Ranges can turn the lights on once again.

By Oliver Gordon (Original ABC Article)