Floodwaters could remain high for weeks, meeting hears

October 09, 2016

Flood waters sit on River Rd in Cobram on Saturday.

Moira Shire's Shane Sutton addresses the meeting in Cobram on Saturday afternoon.

While Murray River flood waters have peaked in Cobram, authorities are warning water levels could still remain high for weeks.

Cobram peaked on Saturday afternoon, Tocumwal at 10pm on Saturday night at 7.36m and will peak at Strathmerton/Ulupna Island today.

SES efforts have focussed on a number of low-lying and critical areas, including Ulupna Island, Mywee and Ulupna township.

Sandbagging equipment has been mobilised to the area from across the state, with a number of volunteers from other units also assisting.

"The flood waters will be high for weeks - it could be weeks, at least a week, before they recede," SES Cobram unit controller John Stava told residents at a meeting in Cobram on Saturday afternoon.

"The job for Cobram now will be to continue inspecting the levees to ensure they maintain their integrity."

It's expected to take another four to five days to get to Barmah.

The Stan Collie Causeway between Cobram and Barooga remains open, although motorists are urged to take care with reduced speed limits, additional traffic and animals seeking higher ground.

Yarrawonga police's Damian Loiterton said the GV Highway near the Tocumwal bends would remain closed, due to the condition of the road.

He said people should stay away from flood waters and not 'sight see' near flood-affected areas, as it had been impacting traffic in Yarrawonga and near Thompsons Beach.

Authorities are also warning people to be wary of trees in flood affected areas following the issue of a strong wind warning for Victoria for Sunday.

One tree in floodwaters has already brought down powerlines in River Rd, Cobram, this morning, causing a power outage in the region for several hours.

An evacuation notice was issued for people on Barmah Island Saturday afternoon, due to levee breaches and the possibility that people would be unable to return to the island for several days due to floodwaters.

Moira Shire catchment officer Shane Sutton told the Cobram meeting that water had overtopped the levee near the island for about a 300m section.

He said authorities and volunteers would be checking levee banks regularly, and urged landholders to do the same.

"We know the levees are very old and they haven't had much maintenance," he said. 

He said ants, rabbits and other animals burrowing into the levees could compromise their integrity, as well as low points made from vehicle tracks and trees falling on them.

"It doesn't matter how long you've lived here or how many floods you've been through, every one is different," Mr Sutton said.

"Hydrologists can only predict what might happen. What we know is that it's similar to the 1993 floods."

The flood peaked at Yarrawonga on Friday afternoon, and Mr Sutton said on Saturday there was 170 000 Ml coming through per day, 25 000 Ml less than what was predicted earlier.

Agriculture Victoria liaison Dave Boyd said people concerned about livestock issues should phone the 24-hour hotline on 136 186, including for recovery efforts after the floods.

Emergency assistance funding for accommodation and essentials is available for people who are forced to leave their homes due to the floods. 

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