LUCK was on the side of two families after a “tornado” tore through bushland near Daylesford, causing widespread damage on Saturday night.
High winds caused damage throughout the Hepburn Regional Park from Eganstown to Daylesford, blowing over hundreds of trees and closing a section of Midland Highway for most of the night.
Tracey Wanke was out celebrating her stepson’s 21st birthday in Hepburn Springs when she received a call from a neighbour at 8pm, informing her that the roof had blown off their Eganstown home.
“We are very lucky. We sleep in that bedroom where the roof came off,” Ms Wanke said.
“You take so much pride in your house; now, it’s destroyed.”
Tracey and her husband Donald were in a state of shock on Sunday as they sifted through the wreckage.
“I’m a shattered man,” Mr Wanke said.
Ms Wanke said she and her husband rarely left the property or went out at night.
“We survived Black Saturday out here with the winds and couldn’t open the doors. You can only imagine what it was like last night,” she said.
Roof insulation and metal from the house was found high up in nearby gum trees.
Dozens of trees across the property had been snapped in half, while others were uprooted.
Most of the road signs in the area were bent in half.
Casey Halliwell and her parents were also lucky to emerge from the storm without injury after fallen trees flattened buildings on their property.
Ms Halliwell, who lives a few hundred metres east of the Wanke household on the Midland Highway, described hearing a “roar” of wind before flying debris started hitting the house just before 8pm.
“I don’t actually remember; I was just in shock. I was in the room and I just heard the roar,” Ms Halliwell said.
“It’s just a sense of amazement.”
Ms Halliwell said the episode lasted one minute and that her mother was on the porch and saw trees horizontal in the wind.
Other residents told her the wind was swirling “like a tornado”.
Ms Halliwell’s father, Mike, said he had never seen anything like it at the property, which had been owned by the family for 40 years.
“(I’ve seen) nothing ever like this. But the house and all the cars are still standing,” he said.
Official wind speeds through the region have not been obtained because the Bureau of Meteorology does not have a weather station in the area.
“Thunderstorms were observed in the area around that time, following the passage of a cold front that entered western Victoria during Saturday afternoon, bringing a gusty south-westerly change,” senior meteorologist Peter Blake said.
SES mid-west duty officer Gavin Kelly said the Hepburn crew received more than 100 calls for assistance, with some residents having to wait up to two hours for help.
“I think we’ve been exceedingly lucky, given the huge amount of timber that has been brought down,” he said.
“It looks like there has been a general significant strong wind event about 150 metres wide by a few kilometres long.
“But the amount of damage I’ve seen out there ... the wind twisted off the tops of trees.”
The SES received more than 2000 calls for assistance statewide during the 24 hours until 5pm on Sunday.
Daylesford Police received 25 calls to reports of trees down and blocked roads.