Van park managers plan rebuild

Lake Purrumbete Caravan Park proprietor John Clements is “overwhelmed” by the level of community support after a mini tornado devastated the park last week and vows to rebuild it “better than ever”.

WHILE Lake Purrumbete Caravan Park might resemble ‘ground zero’ at the moment, proprietor John Clements said it will “be better than ever” when repairs are finished.

The victim of a mini tornado which swept through the park last Wednesday night, the park was torn apart with about 40 on-site residences completely destroyed and another 20 sustaining various degrees of damage.

“It broke my heart when I first saw the damage,” Mr Clements said.

“We’ve been here for three years and had worked really hard to have the park looking really picturesque, only to have it completely destroyed in a matter of minutes.

“There was so much damage – you had to see it to believe it.”

Mr Clements said he was relieved no one was hurt.

PB Storm Damage Update
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“We only had five residents in the park that night and they’ve all come out of it okay safety-wise, although some of them have completely lost their vans and annexes,” he said.

“If this had happened over Easter when the park is full, there would have been all sorts of injuries, maybe even a death, the tornado was that savage.”

A full-scale clean-up has been ongoing since the incident with local authorities, utility providers, tree trimmers and residents all on hand to help.

Residents and their families have already dismantled and completely cleared many of the sites, which were left twisted mounds of timber, iron, furniture and debris.

Mr Clements said everyone had been “sensational” in offering help.

“The police, SES and ambos that were here on the night were great,” he said.

“I can’t fault the Corangamite Shire – the mayor, deputy mayor and their emergency officer were here first thing Thursday and they’ve given us huge amounts of help with the clean-up.”

Mr Clements also praised Powercor, WorkSafe, the Department of Human Services, Sloane’s Trees, Carter’s Tree Services and the insurance assessors who all acted quickly.

“Marina (wife) and I are completely overwhelmed with the help and support we’ve received and want to thank everyone,” he said.

“The CFA came and disconnected all the gas bottles, Tony Reeves (plumber) came straight out to disconnect all the water and Lawrie Voutier and Western Waste donated huge skip bins for the clean-up.

“I can’t name all the locals who have helped us – there’s so many of them – from a lady who cooked a cream sponge for us, to a neighbour who donated a generator and all sorts of things like that.”

Mr Clements said he was particularly humbled by the neighbouring Molan and Place families.

“Tony Molan’s house had its roof ripped off in the tornado and had huge damage, yet here he was with his family the next day helping us clean up,” he said.

“Glen Place was the same – his house copped a bit of damage and he was here helping too.

“It really gives you a lift to see things like that.

“When all this is over and things settle down a bit, we’ll have a big celebration here for everyone who helped, that’s for sure.”

While the caravan park is expected to be closed for some weeks yet, Mr Clements said he was now looking forward to the rebuild.

“You have to look at things positively – this disaster will eventually give us a chance to rebuild and make things better than ever,” he said.

“We’ll make things stronger, plant trees that are more suited to the local wildlife – it will be like a clean canvas for us.”

Anglers still keen to fish at Lake Purrumbete are advised access through the park is currently not permitted due to safety concerns.

Alternative access is suggested through the old quarry site or Hamilton Lane. Hose’s Rocks has suffered tree damage and remains off limits.

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