‘Flood catastrophe’: Record rainfall leaves Hobart with $5m damages bill

The massive clean-up is expected to take several days as dozens of buildings and cars were damaged, and several roads closed.

The massive clean-up is expected to take several days as dozens of buildings and cars were damaged, and several roads closed. Photo: Twitter

A damages bill in excess of $5 million is expected after record May rainfall lashed Hobart’s CBD and suburbs.

Conditions are easing in Hobart after two days of heavy rain, with a mammoth clean-up underway, following the city’s wettest day in nearly 60 years.

The city recorded its wettest day since 1960, with 129mm falling in 24 hours on Friday alongside wind gusts of more than 80km/h.

SES director Andrew Lea said Friday’s flooding was unprecedented.

“I have been in this job for 17 years and I haven’t seen an event of this scale in the Hobart area so it is very significant,” he told reporters.

“There is still a lot of water around and a lot of that water is contaminated with sewage,” Mr Lea said.

Mt Wellington recorded 236mm, Leslie Vale 226mm and Grove 160mm, with emergency services receiving nearly 400 calls for help.

A teenage boy had to be winched to safety from a flooded cricket oval at New Norfolk, while a security guard was rescued from a windowless room at the University of Tasmania’s Sandy Bay campus as it filled with water.

record rainfall hobart rescue

Emergency services were kept busy during the past 48 hours. Photo: AAP

Two people who tried to drive through flood waters at New Town also had to be pulled to safety.

The deluge forced the Sandy Bay campus to close while the Royal Hobart Hospital shut 15 beds due to flooding, including those in oncology intensive care and paediatrics.

Seven of the beds remained out of action after the hospital lifted its emergency “code yellow” on Friday afternoon.

SES acting regional manager Andrew Dance says the weather has returned to normal as of Saturday morning, with no requests for assistance since 10.30pm on Friday night.

Some residents had asked for help clearing debris so they could access their homes on Friday night. However, SES crews will move into damage assessment tasks rather than emergency assistance on Saturday.

Energy provider TasNetworks said about 1100 homes remained without power on Saturday morning.

Spokesman Dan Sinkovits said the majority of the outages were in Cygnet and Wattle Grove, with 382 homes without power followed by 220 at Kingston and 149 at Sandy Bay.

“We’ve got fresh crews on this morning so they’re working flat out,” he told AAP.

TasNetworks estimates power would be restored by Saturday afternoon, Mr Sinkovits added.

The Insurance Council of Australia has declared damage from the floods a catastrophe, while the RACT expected the cost of the storm among its customers to exceed $1 million after it received more than 400 claims.

Hobart’s Mercury newspaper reported the damages bill could exceed $5 million as emergency crews continued to work over the weekend to help residents and businesses restore power and clean up debris.

Conditions are expected to ease into Saturday, but a flood watch remains in place for the eastern half of the state, as well as flood warnings for the North Esk, Derwent, Huon and Coal rivers.

A number of roads were closed off on Saturday including Lake River Road at Cresy due to power lines coming down.

Parts of Albert Road at Moonah, Blowhole Road at Blackmans Bay, Brockley Road at Buckland over the Prosser River and Collins Cap Road were also closed.

-with AAP

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