Australia – 1 Dead, 1 Missing, Crops Destroyed After Floods in Western Australia

Record breaking rain and floods have destroyed crops and damaged infrastructure across areas of Western Australia (WA) over the last week. At least person has died and one is still missing.

Earlier today, WA Premier Colin Barnett said that the heavy rain has affected huge areas of the state, including Swan Valley, where it has had a dramatic impact on grape growers, as well as parts of the Kimberley, the Pilbara, the Gascoyne, Mid-West areas and the south coastal areas.

One man drowned while trying to drive his car onto a flooded road near Esperance in the south of the state on Saturday 11 February. WA Police said that “the body of a man, believed to be a missing 68 year old man of Esperance, was sadly located by Police and SES searchers in the Coramup Creek near Esperance this morning. The man was reported missing around 11.15pm on Saturday 11 February after he drove his vehicle onto Bluman Road, which at the time was flooded. Both he and his vehicle were tragically swept from the road.”

In a separate incident, also in the Esperance area, a man is missing after his car was found abandoned under a flooded bridge.

WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services responded to 450 call outs in the past week. Local media reported that a private helicopter pilot rescued 15 people in floodwaters in Ravensthorpe.

Flood damage in Ravensthorpe, Western Australia. Photo: Ravensthorpe Police

The flooding has been described as some of the worst in decades and is estimated to have caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage with roads, bridges and farms affected.

On a visit to affected areas in the Swan Valley, WA Premier Colin Barnet said that “an enormous volume of water has flowed from the hinterland and probably caused the biggest flood in about 20 years.”

“Many of the grape producers here have lost a significant amount of their grape crop, damage to their vines and some have lost virtually everything.”

The Premier said that the flooding is expected to be declared a natural disaster and that triggers both the Commonwealth and State Governments to work with local governments to immediately repair infrastructure damage, such as roads and bridges.

Grape crops in Western Australia have suffered. Photo: Office of Premier, WA

Flood Warnings Continue

The rain continues to fall. Derby in Kimberley recorded 82 mm of rain in 24 hours to 09:00 on 13 February. Kukerin in Great Southern recorded 85 mm during the same period.

There are still many areas with current flood warnings in place. WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services warned earlier today that flooding was likely in the Swan and Murray Catchments in Perth Metropolitan area.

Record Rainfall

The period between 09 to 10 February saw some of the heaviest rainfall. On 10 February, Kalgoorlie recorded 37mm of rain in just 1 hour. In a 24 hour period to 10 February, Yangedine recorded 75 mm. During the same period, Perth recorded 114 mm of rain, making it the second wettest day on record. The highest remains 09 February 1992 when 120.6 mm of rain fell.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), Perth has seen 165.2 mm of rain so far this year and 134.8 mm in February alone. This summer has been the wettest on record, with a total of 190.4mm, beating the previous record of 180.4mm in 1955.

Rainfall in Western Australia, 6 to 13 February. Image: BoM

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Flood summary

Last updated: February 15, 2017
Event
Western Australia, Australia, February 2017
Date
February 9 to February 15, 2017
Type
River flood
Cause
Extreme rainfall, Long-term rainfall

Locations

A - Esperance
B - Ravensthorpe
C - Swan Valley

Magnitude

Rainfall level
75 mm in 24 hours
Yangedine - February 9 to February 10, 2017
Rainfall level
114 mm in 24 hours
Perth - February 9 to February 10, 2017

Damages

Fatalities
2 people
Esperance, Western Australia - February 10 to February 14, 2017
Rescued
15 people
Ravensthorpe, Western Australia - February 11 to February 12, 2017