Weather conditions set to ease in Victoria’s north, towns told to remain alert for flooding

Weather conditions set to ease in Victoria’s north, towns told to remain alert for flooding

Key points:

  • People in the townships of Seymour, Yea and Rochester have been asked to evacuate
  • The Campaspe River is forecast to peak above the major flood level at Rochester this morning
  • The SES has rescued at least 38 people from floodwaters since Sunday morning

Emergency warnings are set to be downgraded Tuesday evening as weather conditions ease across Victoria, but lingering flood threats remain.

SES chief officer Tim Wiebusch says there is an easing trend with flash flooding, but riverine flooding still poses a risk across the northern parts of the state and Gippsland.

“There are still 61 warnings that are current across the state for a variety of flood watches and also minor to major flood warnings,” he said.

“The good news is that we will set start to see a number of those messages drop off this afternoon as the flood watch area is contracted to where we are seeing riverine flooding occurring.”

Mr Wiebusch urged people not to drive through floodwaters, following more rescues overnight — one near Bendigo and one near Rochester.

“Since 7 o’clock on Sunday, SES volunteers have now responded to over 1,750 request for assistance — and of that, 52 are flood rescues,” he said.

Tim Wiebusch says SES personnel are putting their own lives at risk to rescue those stuck in floodwaters.(ABC News)

More towns told to remain on alert

A watch and act message remains active for residents in and around the areas of Seymour and Shepparton into Tuesday evening.

“The Goulburn River has a watch and act message out for moderate flooding all the way from Seymour right through to Shepparton and Mooroopna where we are expecting to see moderate flooding impact in and around the Shepparton Mooroopna area sometime through tomorrow,”  Mr Wiebusch said.

“We are asking communities in those areas to be alert for the potential of road closures and the potential for over land flooding in some of those areas.”

Mr Wiebusch said that up to 20 properties could be impacted by above-floor flooding in and around the Shepparton and Kialla area, and that a further 150 properties could potentially see flooding in their streets or onto their properties.

“Now is the time to prepare. Make sure you have up to three days supply, so that you can, if you do become isolated, work through that period.”

Impact assessments underway in Rochester

Residents in the central Victorian town of Rochester, which was almost wiped out by the 2022 floods, are being told to remain away from the community until flooding has receded.

Residents were asked to evacuate late on Monday, ahead of the Campaspe River peaking earlier this morning.

“We have now seen a peak on the Campaspe River in Rochester, of 114.62 meters, which is a little bit below what was being forecast of 114.8 meters, which is good news for the residents of Rochester,” Mr Wiebusch said.

The Campaspe river peaked at 115.65m when Rochester flooded 15 months ago.

“We are now undertaking impact assessments in the community and an emergency warning still remains in place,” he said.

The State Emergency Service said yesterday that 30 homes were at risk of being inundated, but was confident that yesterday’s sandbagging efforts will protect them.

Emergency authorities issued a warning Tuesday morning saying it was too late to safely leave the town and residents should shelter in the highest location possible.

People in the townships of Seymour and Yea were also asked to evacuate on Monday afternoon.

Mr Wiebusch said about 20 properties in Seymour were impacted by flooding, including seven businesses, and that multiple properties in Yea have also been impacted.

Mr Wiebusch said that while the warnings have been downgraded in these areas, it was not yet safe to return.

“While waters have receded in some parts, we are still experiencing moderate flood levels, that means roads are still cut in a number of areas and that’s why we’re still indicating through Watch and Act message that it is unsafe for people to return into those particular areas at this point in time.”

Seymour resident Anthony Ruscoe prepares for flash flooding by sandbagging his front door.(ABC News: Callum Marshall)

Eaglehawk woman rescued from car

Police say a 74-year-old woman is lucky to be alive after her car was washed into floodwater in northern Victoria.

The Eaglehawk woman was driving in a convoy along the Elmore-Raywood Road at about 7:15pm yesterday when her vehicle was swept off the road and into the Bendigo Creek at Naughtons Bridge.

She was washed 100 metres downstream before she was able to make her way to a tree.

[Flood rescue pic]

A local named Mitch Smith was out taking photos when he realised the woman was in danger and swam out to save her.

“I knew that I didn’t have much time,” he said.

“The car was going under at a fairly rapid rate and I knew something had to be done quickly.

“She was pretty weak when I got there, and she sort of wasn’t going to be able to hang on for much longer.”

Mr Smith realised he would struggle to save himself and the woman and re-entered the water.

He was swept downstream before returning to his home and grabbing a ratchet strap.

Mr Smith then used strap to secure the woman to a tree while they waited for emergency services to arrive.

The central Victorian town of Rochester has been flooded for the second time in 15 months.(Supplied: Lauren Haitsma)

Record-breaking rain

Senior meteorologist Michael Efron from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said some parts of Victoria had seen  record-breaking amounts of rain.

“At Redesdale, we’ve seen 117mm falling there — a daily record for any month, [from] over 120 years of data,” Mr Efron said.

“And at Bendigo, 92mm falling in 24 hours, another record with over 90 years of data.”

Mr Efron said Heathcote, 40 kilometres south-east of Bendigo, had received 184mm “in just 24 hours”.

The Campaspe River flooded at Barnadown.(ABC News: Tyrone Dalton)

Senior meteorologist Stephanie Miles, also from the BOM, said the stormy weather was caused by the Southern Annular Mode (SAM), a climate driver that could influence rainfall and temperature in Australia.

“It’s been very unpleasant across the state, especially for those people experiencing flooding at the moment,” she said.

“It’s been quite devastating for some people.

“This is despite the outlook of El Niño saying that perhaps it would have been a drier period.”

Flooding of the Campaspe River resulted in road closures north-east of Bendigo.(ABC News: Emma D’Agostino)

Ms Miles said the weather was forecast to calm down in coming days.

“From Wednesday onwards it will feel a lot more settled and we are reaching some higher temperatures by Friday,” she said.

“If people are able to look that far ahead, there is some warmer and drier weather coming up.”

Summer so far has been a vast contrast to Victoria’s spring period, during which the state experienced its driest September on record, driven by El Niño.

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