Rivers in south-west Victoria have risen to heights similar to the floods in 2010, according to the State Emergency Service.
- Warrnambool’s average October rainfall is 62mm, but 107mm has fallen on the area in the past five days
- The Merri and Moyne rivers, which flow through Warrnambool and Port Fairy respectively, are at levels similar to the 2010 floods
Numerous houses in Warrnambool have been threatened by the rising waters, which have also blocked roads and inundated farms
North of Warrnambool, Woodford residents are dealing with flooding from the Merri River after the area exceeded its average October rainfall in just two days.
Woodford Primary School was forced to close — ironically due to a lack of water.
Flood levels reached a storage area under a high verandah where the school’s water pumps and tanks are located, but teacher David Atkinson said the damage was minimal.
“There’s no damage [to buildings, but] the playground’s under water, the sandpit’s gone, the cubby houses are lost, and the fence is just gone,” he said.
“We had floods in 2011 and 2016, but this is worse — it’s flowing much quicker and higher.
“We’re anticipating it will get higher, but the school is safe.”
Waters still rising
The Moyne River has reached 4.15 metres and downstream in Port Fairy there was a minor flood warning in place.
SES south-west regional duty officer Bradley Jew said the SES had received callouts to properties in Port Fairy and Warrnambool, but he did not know how many had been affected.
“It’s caused a bit of grief overnight and will cause some more today unfortunately,” Mr Jew said.
“The issues with Port Fairy this morning is it’s getting quite close to the levels we saw with the 2010 floods and similar with the Merri River.”
The 2010 floods that swept the region were the worst Victoria had seen in 15 years with the Army forced to step in to help evacuate residents.
Mr Jew said Warrnambool’s suburbs of Dennington and South Warrnambool were areas of concern today as the Merri continues to rise, despite the rain easing.
“There has been a lot of water come down into those catchment areas and unfortunately it does take a while for that to come down that river system,” Mr Jew said.
“We are seeing the effects of what fell a couple of days ago.
“Unfortunately it’s probably going to get a bit worse before it gets better.”
The SES is urging residents to check the Vic Emergency App regularly and to avoid flooded roads.
“Obviously there are a lot of inundated roads out there and we want to reinforce, please don’t drive through the flood water,” Mr Jew said.
A severe weather warning for strong winds remains in place for the south-west region.
A minor flood warning is also in place for the Glenelg River at Casterton, which is expected to rise further after the catchment received more than 35mm in the past day.
Roads, farms flooded
Port Fairy’s SES controller, Steve McDowall, said their crews had been flat out since the early hours of Thursday.
“There’s water across the road in several locations … anybody travelling today, I would suggest they check the routes and allow more time.”
Mr McDowall said the local SES had responded to 22 jobs in the previous 24 hours related to flood threats and fallen trees.
There are about 20 roads closed across Moyne Shire, with residents urged to check the shire’s Facebook page for information.
Former Moyne mayor and farmer Daniel Meade said October rain is normally welcome.
“I think the amount we’ve had this week is probably enough for farmers around the district — hold off a couple of weeks,” he said.
‘A sight to behold’
Warrnambool resident Judy Mills said her backyard, which is adjacent to Russells Creek, is entirely flooded.
“[A neighbour’s] place looks over the valley of the Merri River and it’s completely covered in water — it’s a sight to behold,” she said.
Ms Mills said the Merri’s floodwaters were approaching a new housing estate near the Warrnambool Golf Club.
“I’m not sure how much more water we’re expecting, but they’d have to be a little bit worried, they’re new houses,” she said.
Woolsthorpe farmer Graeme Glasgow said he recorded more than 140mm of rain over the past five days, and the rising waters of Spring Creek had flooded his paddocks and washed away fences.
“I shifted the cows, they were down near the creek, I shifted them away, and again in the afternoon, just to make doubly sure to get them well away,” Mr Glasgow said.
“There’s a not lot you can do.”
Flash flooding in Coleraine
In the early hours of the morning a flash flood warning was issued for Coleraine due to water levels in the storm water system.
“Luckily we’ve managed to get on top of that and it should be downgraded later on today,” Mr Jew said.
Mr Jew said there wasn’t significant effects to properties, but roads were heavily inundated by the flash flooding.
“There are still some low lying roads that may still have some water on them, but the water is slowly subsiding,” he said.