Victorian man found dead in floodwaters

·4-min read

A man has been found dead in floodwaters in southeast Victoria.

Emergency services were called to Starlings Lane in Woodside about 1.45pm on Thursday after a member of the public discovered a vehicle almost submerged in floodwaters.

A rescue team found the man, possibly aged in his 60s, dead in the vehicle.

Victoria Police are investigating and will prepare a report for the coroner.

About 60 kilometres north, evacuation warnings remain in place as floodwaters are rapidly rising.

Emergency authorities are strongly recommending residents, workers and holiday-makers near Traralgon Creek evacuate after parts of west Gippsland recorded rainfall totals over 270mm.

With flooding expected to impact more than 220 homes, people have been told to travel to a safe location such as a family member or friend's home.

A car is seen submerged by flood water in Traralgon.
A car is seen submerged by flood water in Traralgon, Victoria, on Thursday. Source: AAP

A relief centre has been set up at the Traralgon Basketball Stadium for those with nowhere to go.

Traralgon Creek has risen to nearly six metres, although it is expected to fall below the major flood level of 4.8 metres on Thursday evening.

There are other active major flood warnings across the West Gippsland catchment including the Avon, Macalister, Thomson, and Latrobe rivers.

Those already in a safe place are urged to stay put for the next 48 to 72 hours, when most of the flooding is expected to move through communities.

Emergency crews receive thousands of calls

By lunchtime Thursday, emergency services had already been called to a dozen flood rescues in Gippsland.

"We can't emphasise enough that driving into floodwaters is the greatest risk you can take," Victorian SES chief Tim Wiebusch said.

"That is the number one thing where we see fatalities during flooding and it just ties up our emergency services unnecessarily."

The SES has responded to more than 5000 calls for help and it's expected to take days to clear the backlog.

Most of the calls were for fallen trees, though there were some for flash flooding and building damage.

Some 21 properties in the Dandenong Ranges suffered significant structural damage from falling trees.

A person is seen observing the flood water in Traralgon. Source: AAP
A woman walks past a flooded road in Traralgon. Source: AAP

Ambulance crushed by falling tree

At nearby Sherbrooke, an ambulance was crushed by a falling tree as it raced to where a woman and her son were trapped.

The paramedic was shaken but escaped injured, with the woman and her child later freed by police.

Two SES members were not so lucky and had to be taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after separate tree-related incidents. They are in a stable condition.

"We're thinking of them, and wishing them a speedy recovery," Acting Premier James Merlino told parliament.

West and south Gippsland not only dealt with intense rain and flooding but also destructive winds, emergency service meteorologist Kevin Parkin said.

"Many people would have woken up this morning and seen absolute carnage out there," he said.

A large fallen tree is seen near a residential property in Lilydale. Source: AAP
At nearby Sherbrooke, an ambulance was crushed by a falling tree as it raced to where a woman and her son were trapped. Source: AAP

Wild weather leaves 200,000 people without power

The wild weather has left more than 200,000 homes and businesses without power, closed major roads and suspended train services.

Victoria's Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said it could take a number of days to restore power in some areas.

Winds reached speeds up to 119km/h in mountain areas and 104km/h in Melbourne and a severe weather warning for damaging winds remains current for southern parts of Victoria and northern Tasmania.

It is likely to be cancelled later on Thursday afternoon as conditions ease.

Mr Wiebusch said he had not seen a flood and wind weather event of this scale in Victoria since 2008.

Elsewhere, the NSW regional towns of Orange and Oberon have been transformed into winter wonderlands.

A cold snap to the north has brought widespread snow in the ranges, with the Perisher Valley receiving a dump of about half a metre.

The mercury in Sydney is only expected to reach 11C on Thursday as temperatures in some NSW areas dip more than 10 degrees below average for this time of year, while Queensland is shivering through unseasonable lows as well.

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