‘Devastating’: Traralgon evacuates again as power outage drags on, second body found in flood water

Tanya Lynch returned to her Traralgon home on Friday to find the floors covered in a thick layer of brown sludge and debris.

“It was devastating,” she said, looking at the watermark 30 centimetres high on the walls. “I didn’t expect the mud.”

The damage to Tanya Lynch’s home. Credit:Blake Bourne

By Friday afternoon, residents near the swollen Traralgon Creek were on edge again as they braced for another flood, with fresh evacuation notices issued for the area.

Ms Lynch’s family had just minutes to raise whatever they could from the floor while water gushed in on Thursday morning. The family were rescued, along with their pet python and chihuahua, by search and rescue police in a boat that pulled into their front yard.

As news of the new evacuation order filtered through the Gippsland town on Friday afternoon, dazed residents weren’t sure what to do.

“At this point with the stress of getting out and everything I feel like I could just stay,” one woman said. “I could be sorry later.”

Tanya Lynch, who evacuated her home from floods in Traralgon.Credit:Blake Bourne

Fresh alerts were issued for Traralgon, Sale and part of the Yarra Ranges on Friday as more rain was forecast for the already-drenched catchments.

The news came as the body of a second person was recovered from floodwaters, this time at Glenfyne in the state’s south-west.

Nina Barake.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said search and rescue officers located a body, believed to be that of missing 20-year-old woman Nina Barake, in floodwaters about 10.40am. Ms Barake was last seen leaving her home in nearby Simpson in a white ute with her dogs on Wednesday.

Emergency services received more than 7400 requests for assistance in 48 hours and there had been 42 flood rescues in 24 hours.

AusNet spokeswoman Helena Lilley said more than 86,300 people were still without power on Friday afternoon.

“The worst-affected areas are Croydon, Lilydale, Leongatha and Mordialloc, but the list is very long,” she said.

Residents in the Traralgon area were issued with a new evacuation alert at 12.40pm, ahead of major flooding possible overnight and Saturday morning.

Victoria SES chief officer operations Tim Wiebusch said the onset of river flooding was causing real concern.

Les Davidson sweeps water in the front yard of his Traralgon home after the recent flooding in the Latrobe Valley.Credit:Blake Bourne

The rain is expected to ease around lunchtime on Saturday.

Thirty homes have already been affected by floodwaters in Traralgon, in addition to homes in the Hazelwood and Maffra areas.

Traralgon resident Les Davidson has lost most of his possessions in the flood, including guitars, accordions and boxes of documents.

The floors of his house were also flooded when a semi-trailer drove past on Thursday morning, sending waves of brown water through the door.

Storm damage to the back yard of Les Davidson’s Traralgon home after the recent flooding in the Latrobe Valley.Credit:Blake Bourne

Mr Davidson had tried to flag down the driver to rescue him from the rising water.

“He just looked at me,” Mr Davidson said. “I wanted to get out of here. I was panicking.”

Traralgon Football Netball Club president Kevin Foley surveys the damage to the clubrooms from the recent floods.Credit:Blake Bourne

He was eventually rescued by a fire truck and treated by paramedics.

At the nearby football ground, the water poured into the clubrooms, picking up freezers and leaving them leaning against the wall.

Traralgon Football Netball Club president Kevin Foley said the flooding was the worst of four major floods he’d seen in 28 years.

Mr Foley watched a live security camera stream on Thursday as the water engulfed the field. It rose above the boundary fence and into the stands.

Electricity outages stopped some Victorian schools reopening on Friday, as coronavirus restrictions eased throughout the state.

Warrandyte High School and Anderson’s Creek Primary School were both closed. The schools posted messages on their Facebook pages on Thursday night, saying they hoped to have electricity back on by Tuesday when students returned from the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.

A general view of  storm damage to the Traralgon Football Netball clubrooms after the recent storms and flooding.Credit:Blake Bourne

Lilydale High School principal Wendy Powson arrived at the school on Thursday to find it had no power and was strewn with fallen trees, including one which fell on a toilet block.

Two people have lost their lives in floodwaters in the past 24 hours.

Gippsland flood victim Brian Gilliland.

On Thursday afternoon, a rescue team recovered 69-year-old Brian Gilliland’s body in the South Gippsland town of Woodside, about 70 kilometres from Traralgon. Members of the public reported a vehicle almost submerged in floodwaters. The family of the father of four told Nine News “he was the kind of guy who would lend a hand and expected nothing back”.

The body of Ms Barake was discovered in flood waters following a public plea for information after she failed to arrive at work on Wednesday.

Acting Premier James Merlino urged residents in flood-affected areas to pay attention to any warnings.

“It was quite extraordinary leaving home and driving through the Dandenongs this morning. Just massive trees across homes across the roads,” Mr Merlino said.

“If there is an evacuation warning, please get out.”

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