As the flood waters have started to recede, the full extent of the damage is beginning to emerge. Western Australia’s (WA) Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson reported that 38 homes and 37 businesses have been destroyed, with an additional 121 homes suffering damage. The damage is so severe in some cases, many face long-term rebuilding efforts. authorities are working to provide temporary housing options in the areas, including using mining camps and Defense Force facilities. The flooding has also caused significant damage to infrastructure and transportation routes, including a major bridge in Fitzroy Crossing.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA (DFES) said damage assessments are continuing.
“The people in the Kimberley are a tough mob. They’ve shown incredible resilience, patience and determination over the past couple of weeks as their lives, homes and workplaces were upended by Mother Nature.
“Our Urban Search and Rescue and State Emergency Service crews are working as fast as possible alongside residents, community leaders, local Rangers and volunteers to understand and record the extent of the damage.”
Detailed assessments are an essential step for repairs and rebuilds to get underway where needed and help communities get back on their feet.
The huge task of initial damage assessment is largely complete, and essential before moving into the next stages of recovery when it is safe to do so.
Though much of the water has receded, conditions on the ground have been impacting the time these assessments can take. Some areas have only been accessible on foot, with unstable or deep muddy surfaces unsuitable for vehicles or aircraft, DFES said.
Along the way, teams have been checking on communities and carrying full packs of water in case they come across someone in need. They’ve also helped any stranded animals they come across get fresh water and food whenever possible.
“Thank you to the locals and community leaders for working with us. Your knowledge of the area, understanding and kindness, during what is an extremely challenging and difficult time is very much valued, as is your willingness to jump in and assist where you can,” the department added.
Further severe weather may be on its way, DFES warned. A tropical low may form near the Northern Territory coast next week before moving into waters north of WA on 26 January.
“It is expected to be a weak system and the likelihood of developing into a tropical cyclone is very low. There’s uncertainty in the system track, location and intensity at this stage – but rest assured that we are monitoring it closely with The Bureau and preparing for any possible outcomes. We will continue to update our communities if things change,” DFES said.