Severe weather warning for Victoria, South Australia as strong winds leave crane in danger of collapse
Photo: Power crews disconnected electricity in the 'exclusion zone' at Lennox St. (ABC News: James Oaten)
A second crane has been delivered to a worksite in inner Melbourne to help with the dismantling of another crane that was left in danger of collapse by strong overnight winds.
About 300 residents in Richmond had to be moved to safety after the arm of the crane on Lennox Street was blown backwards and bent late on Monday night.
Trams along Bridge Road have been stopped, and the road has been closed to motorists between Hoddle Street and Church Street as workers dismantle the crane, which is about 30 metres above the ground.
Power to businesses in the area has been cut to allow safe access for the second crane, which will be used to take the damaged one apart.
Metropolitan Fire Brigade commander Rick Gili said it would take engineers a few days to dismantle.
Peter Heeraman, who manages a pharmacy near the worksite, said he was concerned the disruption would hurt his business.
"Lots of retailers in the area would be feeling the pinch this morning," he said.
"It's a bright sunny day, a perfect day to start a sale and no one coming through the doors — it's pretty hard for us."
Among those at the evacuation centre at Richmond Town Hall early on Tuesday morning were Glenys and Ian Dalton, and their dog, Wally.
"We wouldn't leave him behind, he's our very best friend," Ms Dalton said.
The couple were woken by police knocking on their door in Mulberry Street.
"They said we had to evacuate, that there was a possibility of the crane falling over," Mr Dalton said.
"It's an extremely tall crane. It could have easily reached our street," he said.
The couple were planning to stay with friends until they could return to their home.
Others at the evacuation centre were to be taken to hotels.
Another resident, Matthew Gallagher, who lives on Lennox Street, said he was woken by a police officer banging on his door after midnight.
"You've got ten minutes to get out … Pack warm clothes, you're being evacuated… come on, go, go, go'," the officer told him.
Mr Gallagher stayed the night on the floor of a friend's house, and was planning to buy some new clothes, as he did not know when he would be able to get back into his home.
Strong winds caused widespread damage overnight, with thousands of homes left without power in Melbourne, mainly in the city's outer east and south east.
The State Emergency Service received hundreds of calls for assistance across Victoria, mostly for fallen trees.
Pakenham was the worst-affected area with 20 calls for help.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said gusts of about 90 kilometres per hour hit most Melbourne suburbs between 7:00pm and 10:00pm, with winds of more than 110kph recorded on Port Phillip Bay.
Severe weather warning in place for Victoria, South Australia
A cold front is moving in from the west which will bring more windy conditions to parts of South Australia and Victoria today.
"We're expecting the winds to pick up again this afternoon, though they're unlikely to be as strong as they were last night," BoM duty forecaster Rod Dickson said.
The BoM has issued a severe weather warning for damaging winds for much of Victoria's south, with the southwest coast and alpine areas expected to be worst affected.
Winds in Melbourne could reach up to 90kph this afternoon, before easing off after 5:00pm, Mr Dickson said.
In South Australia, a severe weather warning has also been issued for damaging winds in Kangaroo Island and parts of the Mount Lofty Ranges, lower Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula and upper and lower south-east districts.
Locations which may be hit by peak gusts of more than 90kph include Port Lincoln, Kingscote, Victor Harbour, Robe, Mount Gambier and Naracoorte.
The State Emergency Service advises people to move vehicles under cover or away from trees, secure loose items, and stay indoors and away from windows while conditions are severe.