One of the worst floods in Victoria’s history is continuing to swamp communities, with homes evacuated in the state’s north and west.
Floodwaters from the Campaspe River are making their way into the northern Victorian town of Echuca, inundating a number of homes and cutting off roads.
Water has also started inundating the CBD.
So far about 13,000 homes have been flooded and 3,000 people have been forced to abandon their properties.
Thirty-four towns have been affected, with Rochester and Charlton being the hardest hit so far. Both towns remain cut off, so the full extent of the damage is not known.
Campaspe Shire Mayor Neil Pankhurst says the river is swelling to an expected record peak of 9.8 metres.
“It’s the southern and south-western portion of the town that is being most severely impacted,” he said.
He is hoping levee banks along the river will hold the floodwaters.
“The levee system is obviously being patrolled and checked and there’s still some margin there at present. We believe that that will hold and do its job,” he said.
For many towns the deluge comes just five months after crippling floods in the region.
Meanwhile, thousands of sandbags are being distributed to people in Horsham in the state’s west as preparations are made for the worst flood in more than 100 years.
Hundreds of homes are expected to be affected when the Wimmera River peaks on Monday.
The towns of Donald, Culgoa and Boort were inundated on Sunday, while authorities are warning that homes in the town of Quambatook will be swamped sometime on Monday as the Avoca River continues to swell.
In other areas, authorities have issued evacuation alerts for Kerang in the north and Panmure in the south-west.
Premier Ted Baillieu says the Government is doing all it can to help flood-ravaged communities, and says the damage bill across the state continues to grow.
“I suspect that there are tens and tens of millions of dollars of damage that has been done,” he said.
“I can’t put a total on it now but I think it’s fair to say this flood is one of the worst in Victoria’s history and we need to be aware of that and respond to it. And we will.”
Electricity is being returned to thousands of homes in flood-affected areas of the state.
Powercor spokesman Drew Douglas says crews will work through the night to restore power to towns near Charlton.
“We’ve got service now in the towns of Donald, St Arnaud and should have it back in Boort, as well as Wycheproof,” he said.
“Right now it’s around 3,000 or 4,000 customers that are still without power.”