Shepparton and Mooroopna are “too late to leave,” and a man was found dead in Rochester.
Authorities in Victoria warn that the rivers are still rising, and they are getting ready for one of the largest evacuations in the state’s history.
The emergency flood situation in Victoria’s north is getting worse, and authorities are telling many people that it is “too late to leave.”
The evacuation alerts for Shepparton, Orrvale, Kialla West, and Mooroopna have been changed to say that it is too late for people to leave.
The Mooroopna Causeway, which is also called the Midland Highway, was supposed to close on Sunday, but officials said it would close between Mooroopna and Shepparton at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday instead.
Properties in the area were likely to be affected Saturday night.
At Shepparton, the peak level of the Goulburn River was expected to be 12 meters on Tuesday. This would make the flood the worst in the area in decades.
Authorities also told people in Echuca and Echuca Village to leave immediately, and they had to be out by the time it got dark on Saturday.
A second peak is expected in the middle to late part of next week, which could keep some Echuca residents away from their homes for many days.
At the same time, a man was found dead in his home in Rochester, which is in northern Victoria. The 71-year-old man’s body was found in the back yard of his High Street home around 9:45 a.m. on Saturday.
Victoria police and SES crews couldn’t get to the house at first because flood water had cut them off. The man was the first person to die because of the floods.
David Clayton, the assistant commissioner of police in Victoria, said that emergency services were getting ready for a lot of people to move.
“We expect to see some of the biggest evacuations we’ve ever seen in the next few days,” he said.
By Saturday, flood water that rose above floor level had damaged more than 460 homes, and about 500 homes were still cut off.
During the flood emergency, the SES had saved about 350 people.
People who chose to stay in their homes in Rochester had to be saved in 160 of these rescues, while people who were stuck in their cars had to be saved in 150 of them.
Major flood warnings were put out for the Avoca River, Goulburn River, King River, Mount Emu Creek, Loddon Weir, Ovens River, Broken River, and Seven Creeks.
The Maribyrnong River broke its banks and flooded homes in the inner west of Melbourne.
Stan Graddzki lived in the same Maribyrnong home when floods hit in 1974, and he remembers that the water was “about the same level, coming in through the windows it was that high.”
“I put sandbags around the house the day before and put plastic drop sheets on the side of the house wall, but this water was too strong,” he said.
“We didn’t get much notice. Usually, it slowly creeps up from the gutters and drains. This time, it didn’t sneak up on us. Within an hour, the street was under water, and the next hour it was inside. It just kept coming and coming. When it reached my waist, I knew we couldn’t do anything.”
Gradzki said, “The clean-up was the hardest part.” His house was full of mud and trash, and he didn’t know how to file an insurance claim.
“But everyone is helping each other out, so the community spirit is good. People have a lot of good in them.”
On Friday, the Lachlan River in the central-west town of Forbes, New South Wales, reached a level that caused a major flood. The center of the town was cut off. More than 2,000 people in Forbes and 250 homes were hurt.
Due to the heavy rain in western NSW over the past few weeks, NSW SES southern zone commander Benjamin Pickup said that rivers could rise quickly even if the weather was nice.
“The flooding will keep moving downstream, so people who live near a waterway should be aware of the situation and keep an eye on it,” he said.
Jonathan How, a senior meteorologist with the Bureau of Meteorology, said that heavy rain stopped falling overnight, but that many places had seen very high rainfall in the past few weeks.
He said that parts of southern and central NSW, like Broken Hill in the state’s far west, had set records for the most rain in October.
“Catchments are very, very wet, and rivers have responded very, very quickly. These rivers are expected to stay high for at least a few weeks,” he told ABC TV.
How said that weather forecasters were keeping an eye on another weather system that could bring more rain to the east coast by the next weekend and cause more rivers to rise.
Michael Ferguson, Tasmania’s acting premier, said that even though the wind and rain have died down, the risk of flooding has not gone away.
“We’re not out of the woods yet at all,” Ferguson said on Saturday. “Our waters are still rising in a number of catchments and river systems.”
“This doesn’t make sense. Even though it has stopped raining, the water is still rushing through the river systems, and there are two river systems where the water is still expected to reach its peak.
“That means there are even more properties that could be flooded and could still be given an order to leave.”