Rising rivers in south-eastern Australia have prompted authorities to issue flood evacuation orders for thousands of homes across the states of Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales (NSW).
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said “Major to record flooding is occurring or forecast on many rivers across Victoria and Tasmania. Flooding is also occurring along rivers in New South Wales, which has been hammered by flood events throughout 2022. BoM said:
“With catchments saturated and most dams at capacity, waterways are very sensitive to rainfall, and flooding is expected to continue for several months.”
In the state of Victoria, schools have been closed, roads swamped and power to around 5,000 households cut. In a 24 hour period to 14 October, Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) received over 2,679 requests for assistance, including more than 119 flood rescues.
VICSES urged people not to chance driving in floods:
“We can’t stress enough – Never drive through floodwater. It might be the last decision you make.”
As of 14 October there were more than 90 flood warnings active across the state, with five Evacuate Immediately Emergency Warnings issued including for Benalla; Carisbook, Seymour and Rochester; and along the Maribyrnong River, where more than 60 properties have been affected due to rapidly rising flood water in Maribyrnong, an inner-city suburb in Melbourne, VICSES said.
At least 9 evacuation centres have been opened in affected areas to house those displaced from their homes. Residents in low-lying areas between Benalla, Baddiginnie and Tamook have been advised it’s too late to leave however, VICSES said.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the state has already received 2,000 applications for relief payments for Victorian families whose homes have been impacted by flooding.
BoM said Major flooding is occurring in the Campaspe, Loddon, Ovens, Goulburn, Avoca, King, Broken, Maribyrnong Rivers and Seven and Castles Creeks.
Heavy rain also hit Tasmania, with several floodwater rescues reported in northern parts of the state as of 13 October. Evacuation orders were put in place for about 20 towns along the Mersey and Meander rivers in north-western Tasmania.
As of 14 October the Severe Weather Warning for heavy rainfall and winds was cancelled but rivers are still rising as floodwaters move downstream.
BoM said “Major flood warnings were in place for the Mersey, Meander, North Esk, Macquarie and River Ouse (in Derwent catchment). Flood peaks along the Meander River and Macquarie River at Cressy are likely to be the highest on record. North Esk River at Corra Linn and Mersey River at Latrobe may peak around the June 2016 levels.”
The State Emergency Service Acting Director, Leon Smith, said that “Flood inundation modelling from the 2016 event has been used to inform our response and we have been well prepared for this significant and protracted event.
“Emergency Alert has been activated to directly message everyone with a mobile phone as well as landlines in the identified evacuation areas. SES has doorknocked homes likely to be affected.
“While rain has begun to ease today (14 October), floodwaters will continue to pose a threat for some time and it will take several days before the floodwaters subside.”
Federal Minister for Emergency Management, Senator the Hon Murray Watt said “This is a serious situation for many residents, and we are closely monitoring the current weather system as flood levels continue to rise and new areas come under threat.”
Disaster assistance is available to 17 local government areas (LGAs): Break O’Day, Burnie, Central Coast, Central Highlands, Circular Head, Devonport, Dorset, Flinders, George Town, Kentish, Latrobe, Launceston, Meander Valley, Northern Midlands, Waratah-Wynyard, West Coast and West Tamar.
New South Wales
Areas of NSW had previously seen a period of heavy rain from 07 October. State Emergency Service (SES) reported strong winds, heavy rain and flooding in the state, and by 10 October SES had received over 1,000 requests for assistance, with 44 of those being flood rescues.
Evacuation centres were opened in North Richmond, Richmond, Castle Hill and Dubbo. On 09 October evacuation orders were issued for residents of Gronos Point near Wilberforce and other locations along the flooding Hawkesbury River.
More heavy rain fell from 12 October. On 14 October BoM said “several inland New South Wales rivers are currently near or above major flood level, and many will remain at major flood level for an extended period.”
Towns currently impacted by major flooding include Forbes, Wee Waa, Warren Town, Nanami, Jemalong and Barham.
Evacuation orders were issued for over 500 residents in the town of Forbes where the Lachlan River reached the Major flood mark early 14 October.
Around 200km to the south, residents of the city of Wagga Wagga were also ordered to evacuate, as of 14 October, due to rising levels of the Murrumbidgee River.
The flooding is far from over, but you can see the impact it is already having on communities in the Goulburn Valley.
I’m checking in with the team on the ground in Shepp to make sure they’re getting all the support they need. pic.twitter.com/6pOeKyi3iD
— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) October 14, 2022