Australians are set to be hit by a “relentless onslaught” over the coming days as flood-affected communities only begin to count the cost of the severe weather event.
Flood regions in NSW and Victoria could experience widespread falls of 25 to 50mm throughout the week, with isolated heavy falls in excess of 100mm also possible.
Unfortunately, regions with overflowing river catchments like inland NSW, the Murray Darling Basin and northern Victoria are in the firing line.
“Two powerful weather systems will be moving across the country in what is shaping up to be a relentless spring. Flooding rain once again falling over areas where it is absolutely not needed,” Sky News meteorologist Alison Osborne said.
The rain band formed around Central Australia and South Australia on Monday evening and is set to move eastwards over the coming days.
Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Dean Narramore said this was “not good news” for flood-affected areas of NSW and Victoria, with heavy downpours and thunderstorms on the way.
“Moving into Wednesday, we’re going to see widespread rain and thunderstorms across Queensland, NSW and South Australia,” he said.
“And then into Wednesday night we’ll start to see them impacting across northern parts of Victoria.
“Each day Wednesday through Friday we‘re likely to see severe thunderstorms as well across large parts of Queensland and NSW, with large hail, heavy rainfall and damaging winds.”
But Ms Osborne warned the heavy deluge was set to continue into next week.
“As we look to the weekend yet another low pressure system is forming almost in the same locations over South Australia and NSW and then pushing down towards Victoria,” she said.
“An associated rain band’s set to hinge over the east coast, with more storm activity during Monday and Tuesday.
“This relentless onslaught of frontal systems really has no end in sight for the next week.”
It comes at a time when Victorians are still dealing with flooding in numerous areas across the state.
The Goulburn River peaked at 12.06m on Monday morning in Shepparton’s worst flood event in nearly 50 years.
There are fears Echuca could surpass flood levels on Tuesday not experienced since 1993, with around 2000 properties affected, while the SES has warned that the town of Kerang could be cut off for up two weeks due to isolating floodwaters.
Gannawarra Shire Mayor Charlie Gillingham said locals had been out in force stocking up on groceries and supplies, with the Patchell Bridge expected to close in the coming days.
“We’re unsure when the bridge will be close. Hopefully, it’s not for a few more days yet,” he told the ABC on Tuesday.
“When it does close the town will be isolated.
“I’m sure if it gets really serious we can get food delivered by air.”
The bureau has also forecast possible renewed peaks on the Murray River on Wednesday and Thursday as the Goulburn River floods into it.
Victorian emergency services commissioner Andrew Crisp called it the “second peak”.
“So we’re looking at this next 24 hours to 48 hours, where we’re seeing the water from the Goulburn work its way down the Murray River towards Echuca,” he told the ABC.
“We will see what we’re calling this ‘second peak’. The community is doing exactly what it should be doing, working with emergency services and planning for what might eventuate.”
He said the main areas of concern on Tuesday were Bunbartha, where a wider evacuation order was issued, Charlton, Shepparton and Mooroopna.
Two medium helicopters will arrive from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) on Tuesday, with large Chinook helicopters set to assist in the north from Wednesday.
Victoria SES has issued just under 60 flood warnings as of Tuesday morning.
More than 140 early centres, schools and TAFE campuses were closed across the state on Tuesday, mainly situated in the north east.
Victoria Police is investigating an incident in Melbourne where a Maribyrnong home was allegedly looted on Monday morning.
Around three men were reportedly spotted, with one of them allegedly entering the Burton Crescent property about 7am and stealing the owner’s personal belongings before they all fled in a blue Ford Territory.
The man was wearing high-vis clothing, a beanie and face covering at the time.
Federal Emergency Management Minister Senator Murray Watt described the alleged crime as “un-Australian”.
“That is just un-Australian behaviour, it is nothing short of that,” he told the Today Show on Monday.
“I met people in the last couple of days who have lost everything and are really traumatised, so to have looting happen on top of that is completely unacceptable.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up for a Maribyrnong family after their home was looted.
“Please help our beloved work colleague and her family get back on their feet after the floods ripped through their home with little warning,” the work colleague wrote.
“And to add to the trauma some low life scum tried to loot whatever possessions Yasna and Darren had rescued to the upper floor.”
Victorian Ambulance Union’s Danny Hill also revealed paramedics and ambulance workers allegedly had their cars broken into in Ballarat after working the Saturday night shift.
“Disgusting behaviour,” he said.
In NSW, residents in Forbes in the state’s Central West had to be evacuated last week after dangerous floods hit the area.
There are fears flooding could reach the Riverina region in the state’s south, with residents in Poverty Point, Picnic Point and east Mathoura told to evacuate before 10am on Tuesday.
In Moana, 300 people have been evacuated, while thousands more in the area are on alert.
Two base camps have been established to accommodate up to 550 people, while the SES has dispatched more than 125,000 sandbags into the community.
A low pressure system will bring widespread rain and storms across inland NSW, with many rivers in those areas having not receded from previous rainfall.
“There’s danger of flash flooding from intense bursts from severe thunderstorms,” Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Jane Golding said.
There is also the potential for destructive wind gusts.
“It’s not out of the question we see some hail and some giant hail storms in some locations,” Ms Golding said.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet urged residents to follow all emergency advice from the SES.
“Our dams are full, our rivers are full, so we do expect this to be a difficult time,” he said.
“Even if the skies are blue, if there’s instructions and those warnings in place, please be ready to leave, ready to evacuate.
“Those instructions aren’t there for the sake of it, they’re there to keep you and your family safe.”
Up to 180 ADF personnel will be rolled out into high-risk communities across the state over the coming days, particularly in western regions.
NSW SES has issued 69 flood warnings as of Tuesday morning, with six major warnings in place.
Senator Watt said already flooded communities could experience more issues later in the week.
“The other thing I guess we’re conscious of is that we’re expecting more rain later in the week, potentially as far as Queensland, NSW, Victoria and even Tasmania,” he told ABC Mornings.
“As many people have often observed, the ground in so much of the east coast of Australia is already just absolutely sodden.
“I can’t rule out the communities that have already had flooding won’t have it again. We’ve certainly seen that in other parts of the country over the course of this year and that may well happen.”
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the recovery costs from the floods would impact already prevalent cost of living issues, with the federal budget set to be handed down next Tuesday.
“We don’t yet know how many billions of dollars this flood and its recovery will cost,” he told the Today show.
“It’s premature to put a number on it. We’re still counting the costs and assessing the damage.
“But there will be a substantial impact on the cost of living. And there will be a substantial impact on the budget. There’s no use pretending otherwise.”
The federal government has made disaster assistance payments available for flood-affected areas across Victoria, NSW and Tasmania.
From 2pm on Tuesday, the government has also made one-off payments available in Benalla, Boroondara, Central Goldfields, Greater Bendigo, Loddon, Moonee Valley, Mount Alexander, Murrindindi.
There is $1000 per adult and $400 per child in recognition of the significant losses people in those areas have experienced due to the floods.
These payments were already available in Campaspe, Greater Shepparton, Maribyrnong, Mitchell and Strathbogie.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a $351m package on Monday to assist flood-affected regional areas.
A big chunk of that ($165m) will go towards performing emergency road repairs, with crews already fixing around 10,000 potholes in the last few days.
Another $150m went towards an immediate and co-ordinated cleaning-up effort in the areas hardest hit by the weather.
Owners of uninsured properties can also access up to $42,250 to help pay for cleaning up, repairs, rebuilding and replacing household contents.
A further $15m will deliver counselling, practical assistance and advice for business owners whose livelihoods have been affected by the floods.
Mr Andrews said the $165m to fix roads was “new” money and “over and above” what was previously in the budget.
He said he would have more to say on affected students, particularly those sitting year 12 exams, and animal welfare on Tuesday.
The state government also waived the charges for disposing of flood waste for the 46 worst-affected local government areas.
The waste levy for flood waste and the gate fee usually charged by the site operator has been removed until the end of the year.
It comes as the Victorian Liberals have called on the state government to scrap its vaccine mandate for SES workers, with all volunteers required to have two doses of a Covid vaccine.
“SES and CFA volunteers being unable to help out with the Victorian flood efforts because of the Andrews Labor Government’s vaccine requirements must be reversed immediately,” state opposition emergency spokesperson Brad Battin said in a statement.
“Concerns were raised by hundreds of volunteers in the SES and CFA who were banned from entering their units prior to the clean-up efforts, but fell on deaf ears.
“We need volunteers on the ground doing what they do best, protecting Victorians, not blocked by bureaucratic red tape and outdated restrictions.”
The state and federal governments have prepared the Centre for National Resilience in Mickleham to provide crisis care for those needing accommodation.
The Mickleham facility will provide 250 beds from Tuesday for people who have lost their homes in the floods.
Residents will also receive food and other support services at the site, as well as remotely.
VICTORIAN EMERGENCY WARNINGS
- Shepparton, Mooroopna, Orrvale, Murchison, Kialla West (too late to leave)
- Echuca and Echuca Village (evacuate immediately)
- Charlton (evacuate immediately)
- Bunbartha, Zeerust, Mundoona and Kaarimba (evacuate immediately)
- Rochester (move to higher ground)
- Campaspe River downstream of Rochester (move to higher ground)
- Nanneella, Fairy Dell, Koyuga and Kanyapella South (move to higher ground)
- Campaspe River Lake Eppalock to Barnadown (move to higher ground)
- Loddon River Loddon Weir to Kerang (move to higher ground)
NSW EMERGENCY WARNINGS
- Picnic Point, Mathoura East (evacuate)
- Moama Caravan and Tourist Parks (evacuate)
- Cummeragunja (evacuate)
- South West Narrandera (evacuate)
- Parts of Narrandera South (evacuate)
- Moorong St and Edward St West (evacuate)
- Wilks Park (evacuate)