Reservoir Bursts – Residents Flee

Australia: A reservoir has broken its banks at Beaufort in western Victoria and more than about 70 residents of the town, west of Ballarat, have been told to evacuate their homes.

The State Emergency Service says the dam walls could burst and up to 150 houses could be under threat as heavy rain continues to lash the state.

Homes are also being evacuated in the towns of Glenorchy and Great Western, as parts of western and northern Victoria face their third flood in five months.

Up to 100 millimetres of rain fell in parts of the region again last night and flood warnings are in place for the Wimmera, Campaspe, Loddon and Avoca rivers.

In Beaufort, police have been doorknocking this morning and affected residents are being sent to the town’s recreation reserve, which is above the level of the lake.

Resident Jim Cox says people are packing their bags.

“It sounds a little bit dramatic,” he said.

“There was a knock on the door and I guess they’re doing everything they possibly can.”

He says much of the town has been inundated.

“The area around where the timber yard, all that’s gone under. It’s underwater. You come down past Unwin Wines on the highway and you do a right-hand turn there down High Street, that’s all under water.”

Hank Owen is the caretaker of Beaufort’s caravan park, which is next to the town’s football clubrooms where an evacuation centre has been set up.

“The clubrooms are full of people at the moment so I’d reckon half the town is under water,” he said.

“Looking over there now, it’s quiet full of people. So there’s obviously a lot of people under water.”

Torrential falls

Torrential rain has lashed large parts of western Victoria overnight and more is expected today.

The Ballarat region received 59 millimetres of rain and Debra Knight of the mid-west region SES says homes will be inundated in Beaufort.

“There’s been quite a lot of rainfall around the Beaufort area which has gone into the reservoir and has been slowly tipping over late yesterday,” she said.

“Earlier this morning it started to go over much more quickly to the rate it is going to inundate 30 houses.”

In the Grampians 85 millimetres fell at Halls Gap, forcing 100 people to be moved to shelters at nearby Stawell.

Power there has been switched off and the water supply has become compromised.

Elsewhere, a boy was rescued from a drain at Gordon near Ballarat and a man was saved from a creek at Rockbank, west of Melbourne.

Major flood warnings remain in place for the Loddon, Campaspe, Avoca and Wimmera rivers.

Worst-case scenarios

Ballarat SES spokesman Alan Barnard is urging residents across Victoria to stay alert today as rain continues to fall.

“Our worst-case scenarios are coming about, we’re actually having major flood levels,” he said.

“This morning it’s Glenorchy and a number of other places around Horsham; there’s been some concerns about water levels there, so people really just need to keep a good eye on what’s actually happening outside.”

The Country Fire Service has been helping residents sandbag their properties.

Wayne Grincais from the Loddon Valley Incident Control Centre says crews have been kept busy.

“We’ve certainly done a lot of sandbagging around Bendigo, Kyneton, south of Bendigo, that’s been hit,” he said.

“A lot of crews are working on doing some sandbagging in that area, also Woodend and Gisborne near Mount Macedon just out of Melbourne.

“There’s been quite a lot of rainfall there and we’ve had a lot of crews out during the night doing some sandbagging around houses there.”

Road closures

Roads in the Wimmera and Central Highlands have been cut and a bridge was washed away near Malmsbury.

Rain has forced the closure of a section of the Western Highway between Ararat and Horsham, and there is water up to one metre deep across the road at Great Western.

The western regional director for VicRoads, David O’Sullivan, says sections of the highway are impassable.

“There is water along the Western Highway sitting on the top of the pavement for large lengths of it,” he said.

“It’s between actually on the approaches to Beaufort so that’s some sort of a diversion, but it’s not very satisfactory because of the water on the road in Beaufort and in Great Western we have more water on the road quite deep.”

Thousands of homes in western and south-western Victoria are without power.

And V-Line services between Ballarat and Ararat have been suspended because of flooding.

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