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‘No leaving now’: Regional Victoria’s flood damage grows as crisis worsens

The Australian Defence Force will increase its assistance to flood-affected residents in Victoria amid a worsening crisis across the state’s north.

Emergency authorities have ordered residents in Charlton and Echuca to leave their homes immediately, where up to 400 properties could be affected.

Residents in Shepparton, Orrvale, Murchison and Mooroopna have been told it is too late to leave and they should find shelter in the highest location possible.

Stephanie Turpin said the water rose fast overnight and her home in Shepparton’s south was surrounded by water but not inundated.

“We’re fairly high and fairly safe,” she said.

Ms Turpin said police advised residents in her area to leave on Saturday and again early on Sunday but she decided to stay and defend her property.

“There is no way of leaving now,” she said.

“The community is sticking together and helping each other out. People are offering sandbags to other people around the neighbourhood.”

She said some of the water was fast-flowing and dozens of homes and cars were flooded.

“But people are making the most of it. They’ve got canoes and floaties out. It doesn’t happen very often.”

Victorian State Emergency Service says more than 7300 homes and businesses in the Shepparton area could be affected by the rising waters.

There were 127 flood rescues in the past 24 hours, with the majority in the Shepparton area, the SES says.

PM visits flood-hit area

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has flown into Bendigo to tour the flood-affected areas with Premier Daniel Andrews.

“This is a very severe weather event that’s having an impact in urban communities but also in regional communities right throughout Victoria, but particularly there in the north and the northwest,” Mr Albanese told ABC Radio on Sunday.

“We’ll be working with the Andrews government to make sure that people get the support that they need at this difficult time.”

Australian Defence Force personnel are helping authorities evacuate residents, and an evacuation centre will be opened in Mickleham at a Commonwealth facility.

Shepparton has been hit by major flooding, with the swollen Goulburn River expected to continue to rise through Sunday before peaking at 12.2 metres early on Monday.

That was higher than the 1974 flood level of 12.09 metres, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

Television footage shows buildings in the middle of town surrounded by a vast inland sea of brown water, and residents using sandbags in a bid to stop it.

Major flooding has peaked at Murchison, where the Goulburn peaked at 12 metres.

The railway town of Seymour hit by floodwaters on Saturday. Photo: AAP

Major flooding has also hit communities along the Avoca River to Charlton, where the rising waterway had swollen to 7.73m on Sunday morning.

The river at Charlton could peak at 8m early on Monday.

The Wimmera River is also flooding with residents in Horsham warned major flooding was possible early on Monday.

Echuca is expected to be hit by two flood peaks, including one by Tuesday and another later in the week.

Authorities predicted about 200 Echuca homes would be affected by floodwaters.

Residents were advised to prepare to be away from home for seven to 10 days, with Echuca Village expected to be impacted by the middle of next week, with flow-on effects from the Goulburn and Murray rivers.

The Midland Highway, also known as the Mooroopna Causeway, was slated to close on Sunday afternoon but closed on Saturday evening between Mooroopna and Shepparton.

More rain for NSW

More rain could hit the NSW coast as people living in already saturated catchment areas prepare for more water to flow to flood-struck communities.

The Bureau of Meteorology said showers and storms could develop on the east coast on Sunday although inland areas that have received the bulk of recent rainfall were expected to be spared a further deluge.

But another storm system was forecast to develop over central Australia on Tuesday, bringing widespread rain and thunderstorms to eastern states by mid-next week.

On Saturday evening, major flood warnings were in place for 11 rivers in NSW with renewed flooding possible in some areas despite a temporary let-up in the rain.

Heavy downpours in Victoria were also expected to affect towns along the Murray River, including in Moama from Wednesday.

Thousands of residents in Forbes, in the state’s central-west, were affected by flooding after the Lachlan River peaked on Friday night.

Wendy and Kim Muffet kayak up their driveway while dog-paddling kelpie Pete tries to keep up in Forbes, NSW. Photo: AAP

NSW SES southern zone commander Benjamin Pickup said on Saturday it was possible rivers would rise rapidly even if the weather was fine due to the significant rainfall across western NSW over the past few weeks.

Major flooding from the Murrumbidgee River wasn’t expected to reach the town of Hay until late October, the bureau said.

October rainfall records have been set in parts of inland NSW, including at Broken Hill in the state’s far west.

-with AAP

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