NSW SES Flood Rescue Technicians at Lake Conjola
The State Emergency Service responded to hundreds of calls throughout Victoria and NSW. Image by HANDOUT/NSW SES
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Sodden regional towns to be cut off as deluge continues

December 1, 2023

Several regional Victorian communities are set to be cut off by rising floodwaters following a deluge across eastern Australia.

Eastern Victoria and southern NSW were bracing for further rain on Friday after some areas recorded more than 150mm of rain in a day.

Some parts of NSW’s southeast copped more than 200mm of rain in the past few days leading to fears of flooding but that has subsided after the area received a drizzle on Friday. 

The town of Mallacoota over the Victorian border – where landslides cut off the town on Thursday morning – recorded 112mm.

The road leading to Mallacoota reopened Friday afternoon but with speed limits and some restrictions in place, a Victoria State Emergency Service spokesman told AAP.

Flooding in Heyfield, Victoria.
 Floodwater blocked a road and covered paddocks in Heyfield, Victoria. Image by Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS 

As the rain thinned out, floodwaters continued to threaten communities including the Bemm River, which was expected to cut off the town when the river flooded.

“The Bemm River community is expected to be cut off by rising floodwaters from the Bemm River later today,” the SES spokesman said on Friday afternoon, despite an alert for the river being downgraded to advice-level.

Floodwaters in Gippsland are also expected to cause some small communities to be isolated, but they are not believed to be at risk of flooding, he said. 

“Their access roads may be cut off for between 12 and 24 hours as that bulk of water works its way through our river system and catchments.”

The Bureau of Meteorology on Friday warned the waterlogged southeasten border region would not see much rain relief into the weekend.

Parts of eastern Victoria were likely to record total falls of 100mm on top of the 300mm recorded  during the past few days, BOM senior meteorologist Angus Hines said.

“The intensity has come down a little bit but some further wet weather falling onto the saturated landscape, the swollen flooded rivers, (is) likely to prolong the flood impacts across southeastern Australia,” he said.

There were 118 calls for assistance in the 24 hours to 1pm on Friday and eight active flood warnings in place in Victoria.

The SES has received more than 900 requests for assistance statewide since the beginning on the storm and rain event on Wednesday.

Major alerts were in place along the Thomson and Avon rivers as of Friday afternoon while moderate flood warnings were in place for the Buchan, Macalister, Snowy and Mitchell rivers.

Rising Avon River floodwaters triggered a decision to move residents in the caravan park in Stratford onto higher ground overnight.

There were four separate landslips blocking the sole road into Mallacoota which have now been cleared.

“I’ve never seen so much water in our water system in the 40 years I’ve lived here,” SES volunteer Jenny Lloyd told ABC TV.

The town was severely affected during the Black Summer bushfires in 2019-20 and there are fears this bout of rain could fuel new growth and cause further risks for the coming fire season.

“This is the price we pay for living in a little piece of paradise,” Ms Lloyd said.

Several advice-level flood warnings were in place for NSW, with parts of the state’s southeast expected to record up to 300mm by the end of Friday.

A severe weather warning for heavy rain for people in parts of the south coast and Snowy Mountains remained in place on Thursday night before conditions were expected to ease.

The bureau warned flooding could persist after rain subsided in NSW and Victoria.

Severe thunderstorms are likely to lash central, southern and southeast Queensland on Friday with a smattering of storms across northeastern Queensland over the weekend, while severe heatwave conditions persist in the far north.