Our Councillors reflect on storm event

1. The Mayor, O'Shannassy Ward Cr Jim Child

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On 9 June, 2021, we experienced the most significant storm event in Victoria’s history. 122 properties damaged, 72 of which were destroyed. 25,000 trees fell in a few short days.

The year since then has had incredible amount of challenges for impacted communities – particularly those in the Dandenong Ranges, where so many people lost their homes or were displaced for significant periods of time.

When we think about recovery, as a return to how things were before, it’s important to acknowledge that there will still be people who are on Day 0. People whose houses are gone and face a labyrinth of details with insurance, planning and facing a rebuild in a time when costs are sky-high. 

We also know that the mental toll of this event will have on people for years to come. Some of this will only become clear as time goes on, and will take time to address.

What has been true from the start, and what will always be true, is that we’re here to help.

I’m proud of the fact that Council staff – many of whom live locally and were, themselves, impacted by the storm – stepped up to help community members access power, showers, firewood, temporary accommodation and assistance in those first few weeks. 

They worked with community leaders and emergency services, community hubs and groups across the hills to help coordinate a response, give people some sense of normality during a time of extreme upheaval.

During this time we saw such incredible community spirit – the willingness to help and lend a hand. A heartening reminder of how close, connected and courteous our residents are. When the rain stops, the wind calms and the cleanup ends, our strong community remains and that’s something I’m truly proud of.

Our focus has now shifted to recovery – unpacking and illuminating the way forward, supporting community projects and helping to create stability, positivity and resilience as we move forward.

There is, of course, a way to go. 

At the time when the storms hit, we said to the community that if they needed anything, but were unsure of where to go, to give us a call and ask. That’s as true today as it was on the week of 9 June, 2021.

No matter what the years ahead bring, we’ll be here to help, to lead, to guide and, most importantly, to listen as we go down the road together.

2. Lyster Ward Cr Johanna Skelton

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The June 2021 storm shook a sense of security for so many local people. It uprooted not only trees but many lives.  

On top of managing themselves and their households through an ever-evolving pandemic response, there was suddenly no power, water, road access, phone or internet communication. 

In the first few days, in the worst hit areas, people wandered the streets trying to connect with answers or assistance.  

The community responded with huge heart, bravery and generosity. From individuals working in groups like the SES, the CFA, and the Council officers who worked so hard to make people safer; I was so impressed. 

For me it galvanised a desire to do what I can to foster strong connections between community members. 

Genuine reliable connections, both between neighbours and wider afield, made before these emergencies happen again.

But it has been and will be the community members own links to each other that make us safer and more flexible in the face of change.  

I take hope from the connections I’ve already seen made in response to the storm, and from knowing that making friends and building trust between neighbours is usually as pleasant as it is powerful. 

3. Streeton Ward Cr Andrew Fullagar


We have learned so much, yet so little.

As I sit here, on a stunningly beautiful autumn day, it is so easy to allow the devastating storms of June 9 to slip a little more from my memory.

Living in a sheltered spot in Upwey, I blissfully slept through the storms!  Awaking to no power, I wondered how many hours I’d be inconvenienced.  Ten days later, I felt privileged to have that luxury returned. Though connected to the community through Upwey Community Group and Men’s Shed, I still had very little idea about the storms’ severity.  Once the news filtered through that our Hills’ friends were in need, we mobilised our volunteer team to collect much needed items and some cash donations.

I marvelled at the responses by our Emergency services, but also the central role that Council was fulfilling in reaching out and co-ordinating the clean-up effort.  Most of all, I marvelled at the way people rallied in a time of need.  Such extraordinary generosity, resilience and grit in the time of adversity.

However, stories emerged of total devastation and loss, leading to severe financial and mental anguish for many.  They still have no answers, or stare at a long road to recovery.

What have we learned?  That our communities are amazingly strong, yet so fragile.

That we need to tackle climate change, yet seem so powerless.

That we need to rebuild better, yet repeat past practices.

That we need to plan, yet forget so quickly.

That we need each other, yet remain so isolated.

That we need to act now, yet we’re hobbled by inertia.

So it’s good to remind ourselves on these anniversaries; they place punctuation marks in our timeline.

Let’s not forget, but acknowledge the past, so that we can together strive for a mutually beneficial future.

4. Chandler Ward Cr David Eastham

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12 months on, and I’m reminded of the June 9 storms almost every day. One of my best friends is still living in emergency accommodation as their house is still being repaired.

We still have numerous trees down on our property that we don’t have the machinery or time to deal with. And this is the same for so many people in Yarra Ranges, in particular the hills residents.

We all have either been impacted or know people that have – and continue to be.

Seeing the comradery of our communities has been an incredible positive out of this.

Neighbours helping each other, community members connecting and forming friendships they might not have.

So 12 months on thank you to everyone who has been a part of the recovery process.