HOUSES lost their power yesterday when the roof of the Ballarat Showgrounds was blown off and made contact with powerlines, before being propelled onto a car.
As the day progressed, retailers were forced to close their shops and traffic came to a halt as more powerlines fell across the city.
Powercor spokesperson Lyndall King said 5000 customers were blacked out across the region, thanks to powerful wind gusts that brought branches, bark and debris into contact with powerlines.
She said the roof of the Ballarat Showgrounds was lifted off at 11.15am and made contact with powerlines, sparking a power outage for 518 customers in the area.
The central business district was hit by the outage, which blacked out traffic lights at busy intersections and forced the closure of retail outlets.
Ms King said all the incidents were weather related.
“We did call in additional crews to handle multiple outages,” she said.
“Some have been difficult to reinstate given the weather conditions.”
Bridge Mall Traders Association president David Maloney said it was a disastrous day for retail, with more than 50 stores on the north side of the mall forced to close from 1pm – usually one of the busiest trading times for the week.
“It wasn’t just us – Lydiard Street was out too,” he said.
“It has a devastating effect because that’s trading you would never really get a chance to make up. It means a lot in terms of takings.”
Entertainment, as well as retail, was put on hold, with the Regent Cinemas and Ballarat Library also forced to close for part of the afternoon.