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Incredible Storm Recovery Effort - Ben’s Story

The recent storm weather and resulting power outages in Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges left a harrowing aftermath. So much so that the impact is still being felt by many people with homes still without power and needing generators.

We spoke with disability support worker, Ben Owen, a long-time SES volunteer who was part of the collective SES recovery effort.

“The first day, I left work early. Then - let’s put it this way - the pager wouldn't stop chirping for days and days after that,” explained Ben.

“We've certainly had storms before, but this really was another level. There was constant wind for a long time and torrential rain too. It was incredibly challenging with so many calling for help!”

“I was in a truck in a whole Emerald SES crew. Initially we were cutting trees off the road and driveways. Then there were calls for rescues, so these were people trapped in their own homes in the Mount Dandenong area.”

Being part of the Emerald SES crew meant that they were servicing response calls Olinda, Emerald and surrounding areas - some of the most impacted areas.

The Emerald SES crew got 900 calls for help which is almost the yearly average for calls. An incredible effort to say the least. The Lilydale SES crew got 1,200 calls for help in that same initial six-day period. That’s even more than their usual yearly average.

“It was that bad that the first night of the recovery effort, there were other SES volunteers who couldn’t go back to their own homes. That was certainly a first in my 17 years track record being an emergency services volunteer. I was lucky that I could get back to my own home at 3am that first night,” said Ben.

We wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to the many people from emergency services, including Ben, who were part of the storm recovery effort. We know that these are volunteers who don’t do it for the “thanks” or for the acknowledgment. They do it simply because they love helping people and they want others in their community to be safe!

There are many people who are incredibly grateful for the incredible recovery effort. This includes many people from our Melba community.

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