Thousands forced to leave home in Victoria

1/14/2011

Thousands forced to leave home in Victoria
Almost 300 Beaufort householders were told to move out

ABOUT 2000 Victorians were evacuated yesterday as rivers in the north and west of the state filled to overflowing, passing the height of the September floods.

The SES ordered more sandbags as heavy rain pounded into already filling creeks and rivers. The state's rural west was hard hit, prompting evacuation notices during the day.

In the central Victorian town of Carisbrook, almost the entire population of about 1000 left as two creeks broke their banks and the reservoir spilled over.

''We have a town that is totally, totally covered in water,'' said Country Fire Authority volunteer Philip Leech.

''Every house in the centre of town is under about four or five feet of water.''

Almost 300 Beaufort householders were told to move out immediately in the morning, followed by 325 who were advised to evacuate their Great Western homes.

The list grew as almost 800 households in Charlton were alerted and 60 in Glenorchy.

About 40 Dadswell Bridge people were also told to get out immediately after severe flood warnings for the Avoca, Campaspe, Loddon and Wimmera rivers.

Part of the Crowlands Bridge over the Wimmera River was washed away and the SES warned Victorians to avoid swollen rivers and to take care on slippery roads.

The calls, like the rain, continued all morning and 352 Bridgewater residents were told to prepare to evacuate as the afternoon sun broke through.

More than 540 households were warned to evacuate on Thursday at Halls Gap. The SES worked through 3000 calls for help in 24 hours.

Trevor White, the SES director of operations, said that while no significant rainfall was expected, towns downstream of the areas hit by flooding were likely to feel the impact later in the week.

''Residents in western Victoria are being urged to keep a close watch on the situation and stay tuned to emergency broadcasters,'' he said.

Around 1000 homes were still without electricity at 8pm last night, down from 17,000 households in the west and centre of the state that lost power yesterday, after winds of up to 120 km/h toppled trees onto power lines.

The weather bureau said that rainfall records had been broken across the state and flooding on the Wimmera and Loddon rivers had passed the devastating flood levels of September with the Avoca matching that level.

Kyneton, Annuello, Inglewood and Maryborough all posted their highest monthly rainfall on record.

In the Grampians more than 130 millimetres fell in the 24 hours to 9am yesterday, bringing the region's five-day total to 279 millimetres.

The heaviest of the rain had passed through a sodden Melbourne by mid-afternoon and was on its way out of the state. The bureau said Victoria should prepare for a humid weekend with a cooler, drier air mass moving in on Monday.

With NATALIE PUCHALSKI

www.theage.com.au

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