Floodwaters threaten to cut off second coastal town

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Source: Bureau of Meteorology

A second Victorian town is on the brink of being cut-off as floodwaters rise following days of heavy rain across eastern Australia.

Eastern Victoria and southern NSW were bracing for further rain on Friday, after some areas had more than 150 millimetres of rain in a day.

Floodwaters were rising in the Victorian town of Bemm River on Friday, with predictions it soon be isolated.

“The community of Bemm River is very much likely to be cut off this afternoon as the floodwaters make their way down Bemm River catchment,” East Gippsland Shire Mayor Tom Crook told ABC News.

“East Gippslanders, we’re a tough bunch.

“We’re no strangers to adversity, we tend to band together in times like this and just see that sort of resilience within our community shine, even when the rain doesn’t stop.”

An alert for the small town has been downgraded to advice-level with river levels easing for Friday and into the weekend. But emergency services warned renewed rises were possible if forecast rain arrived.

Further north, Mallacoota remained cut-off at midday on Friday, although emergency services still have access. Landslides have blocked the only access road to the coastal town, where 112 millimetres of rain has fallen.

As work continued to clear the landslide on Friday, supplies were reportedly running low at local shops.

“Food deliveries like fresh milk and bread, they aren’t able to come through so the shelves … start to go bare,” Mallacoota resident Mark Tregellas told the ABC.

Victoria’s State Emergency Service said there were four landslips on the road into Mallacoota and only emergency vehicles were able to get in or out. Debris was expected to be cleared by Friday afternoon, but the town remained cut off until then.

“I’ve never seen so much water in our water system in the 40 years I’ve lived here,” SES volunteer Jenny Lloyd told ABC TV.

Mallacoota was severely affected during the Black Summer bushfires in 2019-20 and there are fears this bout of rain could fuel new growth and cause further risks for the coming fire season.

“This is the price we pay for living in a little piece of paradise,” Lloyd said.

The Bureau of Meteorology earlier warned rain would continue to fall on waterlogged areas throughout Friday and into the weekend. Parts of eastern Victoria can expect total falls of up to 200 millimetres.

There were 527 calls for assistance in the 24 hours to 4am on Friday and 10 active flood warnings in place in Victoria.

On Friday afternoon, there were major alerts for the Thomson and Avon rivers and moderate flood warnings for the Buchan, Macalister, Snowy and Mitchell rivers.

At Orbost, the Snowy River had reached minor flood levels (5.7 metres) by Friday afternoon and was tipped to reach moderate levels (6 metres) later in the day.

“Many local roads have been affected. Some, like Marlo Road, are closed. Please obey road signage and do not drive into floodwater,” the local SES unit posted on Facebook.

The rain has also been heavy north of the NSW border. Kameruka Estate near Bega on the south coast copped 200 millimetres in 24 hours to Thursday night.

Parts of south-east NSW are expected to have up to 300 millimetres of rain by the end of Friday.

Elsewhere, there was a risk of severe thunderstorms in central, southern and south-east Queensland on Friday, while severe heatwave conditions persisted in the north.


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