Victorian floods update: Echuca prepares for Murray River to peak

Victorian families impacted by the state’s flood emergency will be able to send their children to kinder for free in term 4.

And with written VCE exams due to begin next week; students directly affected by the crisis will automatically be offered derived examination scores.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday announced the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority and the Department of Education and Training will work with all schools to ensure no student is disadvantaged during the exam period.

Currently, 81 schools and 59 early learning centres are closed because of the floods.

A derived examination score – also referred to as a DES – makes sure that, if any extenuating circumstances affect a student’s exam period, their final result reflects the level of achievement that would be expected, based on the student’s work demonstrated over the year.

Mr Andrews said the government would deliver $2 million in grants for sessional kinder services impacted by the wild weather event.

“This emergency is distressing enough for families without worrying about their kids’ education – that’s why we’re making kinder free, and providing special consideration for VCE students, for those most affected by the floods,” he said.

Education Minister Natalie Hutchins said: “We want all Year 12 students – and their families – to know we’re providing extra support during this challenging time, to make sure every student has the most positive end to their secondary schooling possible.”

A dedicated hotline has been set up for schools and VCE students who have been impacted by the floods, available daily from 8:00am until 10:30pm on 1800 717 588 or

Emergency Management commissioner Andrew Crisp said on Tuesday the SES and emergency services had received 7000 calls for assistance.

Of those call outs, 700 have been for people needing to be rescued from flood waters.

“So 10 per cent of the work of the SES and emergency services has been rescuing people in situations are very much preventable,” Commissioner Crisp said.

Murray River could hit record height

Residents in Echuca remain on high alert as they confront their second major flood event in less than a week.

The Murray River at Echuca Wharf is likely to exceed the major flood level of 94.4m (Australian Height Datum) on Thursday and may hit 95m AHD on Friday, an update from the Bureau of Meteorology on Tuesday said.

That would take it to the highest level in more than 150 years, second only to the record flood of 1870 when the Murray hit 96.2m.

It would also take it above the 94.77m reached in 1993 and 94.74. hit in 1973.

Australian Height Datum measures river height against the Australian mean sea level.

Most river gauges record height from the river bed.

“These floodwaters combined with flows down the Murray River are expected to cause major flooding at Echuca and Moama from Thursday, where river levels have exceeded the 2016 flood level,” the update said.

“Forecasts for Swan Hill and downstream along the Murray River will be refined once there is more certainty in the expected peak at Echuca Wharf.”

The latest flood threat follows the Campaspe River, which meets the Murray at Echuca, peaking on Sunday.

Thirteen emergency warnings remained in place across the state on Tuesday morning with residents at Echuca, Charlton, Bunbartha, Zeerust, Mundoona and Kaarimba being told to evacuate immediately.

Residents at Kerang are being warned they are likely to be isolated for at least a week although the town’s levees are expected to keep waters at bay.

Major flood warnings remain in place for the Avoca, Broken, Campaspe, Goulburn, Loddon and Wimmera rivers and the Seven Creeks creek.

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said Echuca, Charlton and the area around Bunbartha north of Shepparton were of immediate key focus.

“They are our focus but we are also planning for what is happening in Kerang,” Mr Crisp told ABC on Tuesday morning.

Evacuation orders around Bunbartha had been extended to take in Zeerust, Mundoona or Kaarimba, he said.

Mr Crisp said emergency services continued to work on the assumption that up to 2000 properties in Echuca could be affected.

Two Army Chinook helicopters would join the flood fighting efforts from Wednesday, he said.

Heavy rainfall is expected to sweep the north and northwest from Wednesday and into the weekend.

But the heaviest falls will not arrive until Sunday, when up to 35mm of rain is forecast to fall over the flood-affected regions.

Forecaster Keris Arndt, from the Bureau of Meteorology, said a low-pressure system would “spin up” over South Australia and arrive in Victoria late Wednesday.

“We’re expecting to see some showers and possibly thunderstorms in the far northwest on Wednesday that are going to spread throughout the state on Thursday,” Mr Arndt said.

“Thunderstorms can bring some pretty big rainfall totals, but they’re going to be in pretty localised spots as opposed to the widespread heavy falls we got with last week’s event.”

Shepparton, Mooroopna and Echuca are forecast to receive up to 15mm of rain on both Thursday and Friday, with totals to exceed 15mm in the event of thunderstorms.

Showers will ease on Saturday but come Sunday, Mr Arndt said the state would go back into a “rainier period”.

“It’s still a week away that we’re looking … but at the moment it’s looking like Thursday, Friday and Saturday (it will be) showery and stormy across the state and then Sunday and Monday (it will be) more widespread rain,” he said.

Coles’ supplies run low in Shepparton

In scenes reminiscent of panic buying at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, Coles in Shepparton quickly cleared of many essential items on Tuesday, including veggies, eggs and milk.

The deli was also closed until further notice.

Bottled water, rice and pasta packs were also going quickly, alongside pot noodles.

Shepparton local John said it was “unbelievable”.

“After Covid I didn’t think we would see anything like that again,” he said.

“If you didn’t get in quickly, I would definitely say get in now before everything essential if completely gone.”

Quarantine facility open to flood victims

A police presence is on site at the Mickleham quarantine facility as the centre pivots into crisis accommodation.

The facility is set to house people displaced by the flood as residents across Victoria deal with the fallout from the ongoing floods.

The former quarantine facility has been opened up to 250 people but that number could rise to potentially 500 with some communities remaining shut off from water and power due to the flood. Support services and meals will be available during their stay.

The facility, which cost $580m, was closed as a quarantine hub two weeks ago before Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced it would be repurposed to house flood victims.

No one has taken up the federal government’s offer of refuge at the Mickleham quarantine facility.

Workers at the quarantine site, which is being opened up to flood victims, confirmed no one has arrived at the facility requesting to stay due to the floods.

Workers at the site were not sure how many people to expect on opening day but had not been notified of anyone set to arrive as of Tuesday afternoon.

Disaster recovery payment extended

Financial support has been extended to more Victorians in flood-affected areas.

From 2pm on Tuesday, the federal disaster recovery payment will be available for people who live in the local government areas of Benalla, Boroondara, Central Goldfields, Greater Bendigo, Loddon, Moonee Valley, Mount Alexander, Murrindindi and Yarra.

The assistance is already available to those in the Campaspe, Greater Shepparton, Maribyrnong, Mitchell and Strathbogie.

Adults eligible for the federal disaster recovery payment will receive $1000, while children will receive $400.

Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt said more communities will be impacted by flooding events over the coming days.

“As the full extent of the damage starts to become more apparent, we will keep working to provide assistance as it’s needed,” Senator Watt said.

“People are doing it really tough at the moment and that’s why we’ve acted really quickly to try to get flood payments out the door to people to try to help them get back on their feet.”

Claims can be made online through myGov.

SES volunteers held back by Covid jab rules

Some SES volunteers have been prevented from responding to Victoria’s flood crisis because of ongoing Covid vaccine mandates. Liberal Democrats Northern Victoria MP Tim Quilty has urged Premier Daniel Andrews to waive remaining vaccine mandate requirements.

Read the full story here

Flood fight not over for Victoria

SES chief Tim Wiebusch said while floodwaters had receded in some areas, the fight was not over for Victoria.

“There are still many rivers and communities that are under threat of major flooding in these coming days,” Mr Wiebusch said.

About 85 per cent of properties in Rochester township had been inundated, however, the nearby Campaspe River is now at the moderate flood level.

The river is also receding at Echuca after peaking on Sunday, but will continue to ­remain at the major flood level for 24 to 48 hours.

But Echuca is not out of the woods.

“The second flood peak is coming from the Murray River,” Mr Wiebusch said.

“We’re going to see 1000 to 2000 properties in Echuca come under pressure from Tuesday onwards.”

He said the river level would peak at Echuca in the next 36-48 hours, and the downstream effect would be felt “for some time”.

Traffic was heavy on the Murray Valley Highway as ­locals drove north to escape the floodwaters.

Defence force and emergency personnel have worked with locals to fill sandbags and erect walls around homes and businesses throughout Monday.

Mr Murphy said this, as well as a technique using clay and plastic, was being used to bolster the levy which runs between the river and Echuca township.

“That’s on the basis that the modelling is suggesting that the current height is insufficient, so we are working diligently with heavy equipment and personnel to increase the height to a level that we believe is required,” he said.

Mr Murphy said the military had been supporting emergency services in both the flood response but also with running the relief centre for evacuated residents in Bendigo.

He said their assistance would increase as the situation was predicted to worsen in coming days — including by providing aircraft.

He reiterated the evacuation warning currently in place for Echuca, stating it was the preference of emergency services that people leave the area if they haven’t already.

“We are doing what we can but this is a shared responsibility.

“We are providing as much information as we can to allow people to make informed decisions and our recommendation is to evacuate.

“We don’t have the power to force evacuations but are providing as much information as possible in support of evacuating and we encourage people to follow the advice.”

For those still unsure if their properties were at risk of flooding, he recommended erring on the side of caution and evacuating.

“I’m not going to say we are in a race against the clock but we have a program of works to undertake (before the peak).

“We’re doing our very best to support the community and ask they do the same to support us.”

The bridge over the flooded Campaspe River “opportunistically” opened briefly on Monday, but Mr Murphy said it was difficult to foresee when it would reopen again.

Businesses on normally busy roads were closed and sandbags lined the streets on Monday as those who planned to stick around stripped supermarket shelves bare.

In good news for residents of Shepparton, the Goulburn River did not hit its predicted peak of 12.2m but instead peaked at 12.05m, which is thought to have saved 3000 homes from isolation or inundation. But 4000 homes closer to the river were not as lucky.

However, evacuated Shepparton and Mooroopna locals face the prospect of being unable to return to their homes for days — or even weeks — as the floodwaters slowly subside.

Alternatively, residents who stayed behind are being told they may be isolated for weeks, unable to go anywhere.

The Shepparton Showgrounds relief centre has hit capacity, with about 300 people seeking refuge there.

A second relief centre has been opened.

Kerang expected to be isolated for two weeks

Kerang is “coming under pressure” with the Loddon River flood level to peak Wednesday into Thursday, leaving the town isolated for up to two weeks.

“We do expect Kerang to be able to remain dry but it will be isolated,” Mr Wiebusch said.

SES incident controller Les Vearing said infrastructure put in place after the 2011 flood was expected to reduce impact on Kerang homes.

“We are fairly confident there won’t be too many houses flooded, it’s the isolation (we’re worried about),” he said.

A representative of Kerang District Health told residents to consider leaving if they had health concerns.

“We’ve have been through this before as a community and we will again, we just need to look after each other,” she said.

“If you can’t survive without access to heath services for two weeks, it might be a good idea to consider your options.”

The community was warned floodwaters were likely to reach the height of the January 2011 flood, but due to the volume of water coming, levels were expected to remain elevated for longer.

“We’ve been skirting around the by-issue, but we’re expecting Kerang will be isolated for two weeks. That’s what we’ve got to plan for,” a SES representative said. “From Monday night.”

An emergency relief centre has been set up at the Kerang Memorial Hall.

Gannawarra Shire Council has advised the twin Patchell Bridges, which provide access to Swan Hill from Kerang, remain open for now.

Thieves target Ballarat emergency services

Thieves have targeted personal vehicles of emergency services personnel working to respond to Victoria’s floods in an act blasted as “disgusting behaviour”.

Approximately 15 vehicles parked outside the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority in Mount Helen, Ballarat, were broken into about 2am on October 16.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said officers were investigating the incident and “possible links” to other thefts from vehicles in the Warrenheip and Mount Helen areas.

Read the full story here

Horsham prepares for one-in-50-year flooding

Further west, Horsham residents are gearing up for potential one-in-50-year flooding at the end of the week.

The Wimmera River is not expected to reach its peak until Sunday, but on Monday it was already rising steadily by about 1cm each hour.

The Horsham Riverside Caravan Park is already feeling the effects of the flood, turning away guests in anticipation of the weather to come.

The Insurance Council of Australia on Monday declared a “significant event” for the regions impacted by flooding.

Under a significant event declaration, the ICA commences its claims, data collection, analysis and reporting.

“ICA representatives will continue to work with government and agencies to understand impacts on the community and ensure affected residents receive assistance,” it said.

In Mooroopna, more than 1800 properties were without power on Monday as the substation was de-energised due to safety concerns.

Seventy-one schools and 100 early-learning centres have closed across the state.

Costly clean up begins

Police are hunting heartless looters who preyed upon devastated flood victims in Maribyrnong.

About $15,000 worth of valuables were stolen from a flood damaged home in Burton Crescent early on Monday morning in what has been ­labelled a final “kick in the nuts”.

The family had stored their valuables upstairs to protect them from the floodwaters, but a Today Show cameraman spotted suspicious activity at the home around 7am on Monday.

The victim of the looting, who asked not to be named, said: “I have been lucky, with all of the positivity the last couple of days, and then this, they just kick you in the nuts.”

Other residents said they called police after noticing suspicious activity in the area.

It comes as hundreds of families forced out of their homes in Melbourne’s western suburbs are facing crippling bills to stay in hotels near their work and their kids’ schools.

Single-storey homes in Maribyrnong inundated by floodwaters are mostly unliveable, with residents ditching their ruined furniture and sodden carpets on the footpath.

Some homes will need to be gutted even further, including having floorboards pulled up, insulation replaced and complete rewiring.

Early estimates suggest it could take six months or more for tradies to repair the worst of the damage and for residents to be able to return home.

Oakland St resident Annette Anderson on Monday was quoted $14,000 for a month-long stay in a nearby hotel for her and her family.

“The first thing we think of is getting a roof over ours and our kids’ heads,” she said.

Ms Anderson had only just finished renovating and furnishing her home of 20 years, and is determined to move back in, regardless of the eye-watering costs.

“This is my home,” she said. “I have lived here, in a 5km ­radius, all my life.

“I was doing it up so I could go into retirement in a few years; I put a new hot water service and a new oven in, now it’s all out in the street.”

Ms Anderson fears shortages of building materials and tradies over Christmas could see her and her family living in a rental for up to a year.

Maribyrnong mayor ­Anthony Tran said reports of looting showed the disaster had brought out the worst, as well as the best, in people.

“We have a community who are going through the heartache of clearing flood-contaminated materials from their properties,” he said.

In nearby Clyde St, resident Heather Leonello said her husband rang police twice to report suspected looters snooping around neighbours’ homes.

Recovery efforts in flooded regional communities will be bolstered using a $351m state government package.

The desperately needed support follows the deployment of two helicopters, which will help move generators and other heavy equipment.

More than 140 defence personnel remain on the ground in Echuca and Shepparton to help with evacuations, sandbagging and the clean-up.

Daniel Andrews on Monday announced the package, which includes $165m for emergency road repairs.

The Premier said crews were working “around the clock” to restore road access, with more than 10,000 potholes repaired so far.

The Western, Hume and Loddon Mallee regions, where larger-scale works are required due to extensive damage and hundreds of residents are isolated, will be the key focus.

The state’s flood recovery management plan will receive an extra $150m, which will be rolled out immediately to assist with a state co-ordinated clean-up in areas such as Maribyrnong, where floodwaters are receding.

Uninsured Victorians affected by the catastrophic flooding event – which is estimated to be threatening more than 30,000 homes – will be awarded up to $42,250 to help pay for clean-up, repairs, rebuilding and the replacement of household contents.

Up to $15m will be spent helping families with housing, health and wellbeing, and ­financial and legal counselling.

With regional areas facing further disastrous flooding this week, $15m will be channelled into Victoria’s emergency ­response capabilities.

Free rubbish disposal to remove flood waste

Victoria’s waste levy will be waived for flood-related rubbish and gate fees covered to help recovery efforts in affected communities.

The Andrews Government will absorb these costs at sites across 46 councils areas until the end of the year so that locals can remove flood waste free of charge

Other council areas may be added as needed, with the waste levy typically charging at least $62.95 per tonne.

The state expected 300,000 tonnes of waste will end up in landfall because of floods across October.

“We’re not wasting any time to clean up flood-affected communities – we’re working with councils and communities to remove any barriers to getting on with our recovery,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

The councils affected are:

Alpine Shire Council

Ararat Rural City Council

Banyule City Council

Benalla Rural City Council

Boroondara Council

Brimbank City Council

Buloke Shire Council

Campaspe Shire Council

Central Goldfields Shire Council

City of Ballarat

City of Greater Geelong

Colac Otway Shire Council

Corangamite Shire Council

Gannawarra Shire Council

Glenelg Shire

Golden Plains Shire Council

Greater Bendigo City Council

Greater Shepparton City Council

Hepburn Shire Council

Horsham Rural City Council

Hume City Council

Indigo Shire Council

Loddon Shire Council

Macedon Ranges Shire Council

Manningham City Council

Mansfield Shire Council

Maribyrnong City Council

Melbourne City Council

Mitchell Shire Council

Moira Shire Council

Moonee Valley City Council

Moorabool Shire Council

Mount Alexander Shire Council

Moyne Shire

Murrindindi Shire Council

Northern Grampians Shire Council

Pyrenees Shire Council

Strathbogie Shire Council

Swan Hill Rural City Council

Wangaratta Rural City Council

Warrnambool City Council

Whittlesea Council

Wodonga Council

Wyndham City Council

Yarra Ranges Council

Yarriambiack Shire Council

Originally published as Victorian floods: Help for flood-affected students, Echuca braces for major flooding

Victorian floods update: Echuca prepares for Murray River to peak Source link Victorian floods update: Echuca prepares for Murray River to peak

Back to top button