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WA flood recovery begins as Anthony Albanese touches down

Flood victims in remote Western Australian and Northern Territory regions will be able to access disaster relief payments and other support via joint Commonwealth and state packages.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is in Western Australia to visit the remote Kimberley region and view the devastation caused by record flooding.

Recovery efforts have begun in the desert town of Fitzroy Crossing which has borne the brunt of floodwaters now heading west.

Hundreds of residents who fled the region are still waiting to return home.

Plane loads of food and supplies are being flown in to the cut-off town as damage assessment teams look to quickly give people the green light to come home.

The prime minister has announced joint Commonwealth-state disaster recovery funding for the shires of Derby West Kimberley, Broome, Wyndham East Kimberley and Halls Creek in Western Australia, as well the flood-affected Victoria Daly area in the Northern Territory.

The money will go towards emergency assistance, temporary living expenses, replacing essential household goods, housing repairs and personal and financial counselling.

Mr Albanese said the Commonwealth would provide any support requested by the WA government to manage the “unprecedented event”.

“We have already deployed aircraft to assist with evacuations and to transport crucial supplies, and will continue to provide support now and long after the water recedes,” he said.

President of the Derby and West Kimberley Shire Geoff Haerewa said emergency services and volunteer organisations were now on top of the situation but hundreds of evacuees were crowded into makeshift evacuation facilities, such as community halls.

“There’s no air conditioning, and we don’t have the toilet facilities and the kitchen facilities to deal with a crisis of this size and magnitude,” he said.

Mr Haerewa called for government funding for fit-for-purpose evacuation centres and flood-resilient roads and infrastructure to protect communities from future disasters.

Deputy opposition leader Sussan Ley also said the government needed to focus on rebuilding communities in the aftermath of floods and other natural disasters.

“The government does need to stay the course across Australia when it comes to rebuilding after the floods,” she said.

Several other Kimberley communities are expecting flood peaks by the end of Monday from conditions that have caused the Fitzroy River, which cuts across the region, to swell as wide as 50km in some parts.

Concerns the Northern Territory would face more flooding eased on Sunday as former tropical cyclone Ellie subsided.

Severe weather warnings for remote communities in the Simpson, Lasseter and Tanami districts were cancelled by authorities on Sunday morning.

The region had been bracing for impact as Ellie moved back into the NT after wreaking havoc in Western Australia.

-AAP

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