Dozens of Victorian towns are preparing for record-breaking flood peaks, after communities were swamped by swollen rivers yesterday.
So far 13,000 properties across Victoria have been flooded and 3,000 people have been forced to abandon their homes.
34 towns have been affected by the floods, and authorities say it is the worst flooding to hit northern and north-western Victoria since records began.
For many towns the deluge comes just five months after September’s crippling floods.
•Information about road closures across Victoria can be found on the VicRoads website.
•The latest information about evacuation warnings can be found on the SES website.
Flood waters from the Campaspe River are expected to peak in Echuca on the New South Wales border today, and the State Emergency Service (SES) says low lying areas of the town could be flooded.
Australian Defence Force troops are in Echuca to help prepare the town.
Locals now believe the river’s peak will not be as bad as had been feared, but SES spokesman Lachlan Quick says low-lying properties could be flooded.
“There’s the significant risk of flooding to properties through there,” he said.
“We’ve urged some people in those low-lying areas of Echuca to consider evacuating.
“We are dealing with some unprecedented waters here.”
Campaspe Shire Mayor, Neil Pankhurst says people in Echuca have spent the night sandbagging around their properties.
“There’s some areas between the river and the main shopping centre that are subject to flooding,” he said.
“Certainly down the port end, the north end of High Street there’s some areas that can be impacted but it just depends on the level that it actually gets to.”
Horsham is also bracing for its worst flood in a century.
Hundreds of homes could be affected and flood waters from the swollen Wimmera River could reach the city’s CBD.
The Mayor of Horsham, Michael Ryan, says the river is gradually rising.
“That will continue over the next couple of days and they’re expecting a peak of 3.8 metres on Monday,” he said.
“That represents a one in 100 year flood event which is clearly a significant flood event in our community.”
Emergency evacuation warnings are also in place for Culgoa and Boort, and residents in Quambatook are also on alert.
Towns devastated by record peaks
Yesterday, Rochester, Donald and Charlton were hardest hit by the record flood peaks.
Hundreds of people were evacuated from the towns and hospital patients were flown to safety.
People in Rochester were caught off guard as the Campaspe River swelled to its highest level since 1956.
Local Michael Haisman says the peak of 9.2 metres destroyed homes and business.
“It’s terrible, just personally we’ve had two businesses lost.
“Lost our house, water through our house,” he said.
Residents in Charlton are preparing for a massive clean-up.
About 400 properties were flooded when the Avoca River burst its banks.
John Tormey runs the Charlton supermarket and says it is going to be a mammoth task.
“It’s catastrophic, it’s a complete disaster, there’s no houses down the bottom of town really that aren’t under water, ” he said.
“We’ve got the local supermarket, we went in there trying to get some stuff to feed the SES and it’s nearly wiped out completely and a lot of the old guys have just never seen anything like what it is at the moment.”
In Donald, flood waters have split the town in two and water has covered the main street for the first time in living memory.