SES orders residents out amid flood warnings
Thomas Hunter, Paul MillarJanuary 14, 2011
Flood-stricken residents in the state's north-west have been told to prepare to evacuate their homes.
The State Emergency Service has sent out emergency alerts to people living in Malmsbury, Serpentine and Durham Ox.
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Sandbagging in Halls Gap. Photo: Justin McManus
An SES spokeswoman said towns were under threat of being isolated by rising floodwater.
Relief centres have been set up to help cater for the evacuees.
Earlier today, the SES said flooding on the Wimmera and Loddon rivers had exceeded Victoria’s devastating September floods after a night of torrential rain.
As the crisis worsens, rain-lashed western Victorians headed for higher ground.
Water surges through Beaufort this morning. Photo: Pyrenees Advocate.
Residents of Carisbrook, near Maryborough, were this morning ordered to evacuate after the town was hit by flash flooding this morning.
Locals were asked to congregate at the corner of Howard and Victoria streets where they would be collected by emergency services vehicles and taken to higher ground.
The State Emergency Service confirmed the town had been inundated after five days of heavy rain.
Water threatens to cover King Street, Beaufort. Photo: Pyrenees Advocate
Residents were urged to move to a relief centre established at Princes Park in Maryborough.
More than 40 of the state’s weather stations have recorded their highest-ever rainfall.
The towns of Kyneton, Maryborough and Inglewood have all recorded their highest-ever monthly rainfall.
Floods hit Victoria
The floods in Daylesford. Photo: Ivan Carter
A spokesman for the Bureau of Meteorology said 228 millimetres of rain had fallen in the area since the start of the week, with 90mm falling in the 24 hours to 9am today, causing the McCallum Creek to burst its banks.
"On the Loddon River, which is not far east from there, we’ve got major flooding," said the Bureau spokesman.
Roads in and out of Halls Gap have been cut due to flooding, fallen trees or landslides.
About 100 people reportedly left Halls Gap this morning and moved to shelter in Stawell after up to 130mm of rain in the Grampians. Fears of flash flooding at Great Western, near Stawell, prompted locals to evacuate to the Seppelt winery.
The State Emergency Service evacuated about 70 people from 30 homes in Beaufort, west of Ballarat, about 5am today amid fears a reservoir had breached its banks.
About 17,000 homes are without power across the state’s west and central regions, including 2500 in Gisborne, 2100 in Ballarat and Ballan, more than 1700 in Macedon and Woodend and 1000 in Maldon.
About 7500 SP Ausnet customers in Lilydale and Ferntree Gully, and homes in Seymour had their power cut by strong winds.
An SP Ausnet spokesman said winds gusting up to 120km/h had blown trees onto power lines in many areas. He said the company expected to have power restored to most homes by the end of the day.
Flood warnings have been issued for the Avoca, Wimmera, Loddon and Campaspe Rivers after more than 100 millimetres of rain fell in some areas since yesterday.
In the Grampians, Mount William recorded 132mm in the 24 hours since since 9am yesterday, while Cape Nelson had 73mm, Casterton 79mm, Hamilton 46mm and Portland 72mm.
Charlton had recorded 66mm, Hopetoun 54mm and Swan Hill 44mm. Stawell received 86mm, while Edenhope caught 63mm and Horsham 43mm.
The central Victorian city of Bendigo had 57mm, Redesdale had 67mm and Mangalore 56mm.
The SES took about 1000 calls for help overnight amid warnings the latest flooding is expected to be worse than the devastating September floods in regional Victoria. Mudslides and flash floods hit several parts of the state last night.
Tourists trapped by landslides
A group of three German tourists said their car was trapped by two landslides just outside Halls Gap, where they were planning to hike in the national park. They were boarding two buses of evacuees leaving Halls Gap last night.
SES spokeswoman Sophie Jackson said a sandbagging operation had begun in Clunes, in the central highlands, as a creek rose to within a metre of breaking it banks.
"Police and SES have door-knocked most of the town to make them aware of the situation,’’ she said.
The warnings came as parts of western Victoria recorded rainfall totals over the past 24 hours which exceed their monthly averages.
"A lot of western and northern Victoria would have exceeded their average, some parts well and truly, particularly in the Mallee.
"Up until 9am yesterday, we had some parts that had had nearly 10 times their monthly average and they would have had more rain in the last 24 hours.
"Normally (towns in the Mallee) only see about 20 millimetres . . . But some places have had over 200 millimetres just in this first couple of weeks of January."
Mr Carlyon said even Melbourne, which has been on the back edge of the rain, had exceeded its January average in the past 24 hours.
Meanwhile, VicRoads crews were scheduled to drive the Great Ocean Road early today to record damage from the strong winds and heavy rain which have battered the area since Wednesday.
A VicRoads spokeswoman said the road remained closed until further notice.
■ Floods in Tasmania are expected to worsen today after record rain drenched north-east Tasmania yesterday, isolating towns and soaking the floors of some homes, authorities said.
Beach town Scamander recorded 278 millimetres of rain to 9am yesterday, exceeding, in 24 hours, the previous January record, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
- with REID SEXTON, MARIS BECK, ANDREW DARBY and AAP