Flood threat lingers as Vic deluge passes

Victorian communities remain on high alert for dangerous flooding after residents were directed to evacuate their homes.

Authorities issued several emergency warnings on Thursday advising people to immediately evacuate, including for Rochester along the Campaspe River, Carisbrook near Maryborough, and Seymour along the Goulburn River.

An evacuation order was issued for Wedderburn early on Friday morning amid indications the Skinners Flat Reservoir was set to breach.

“This will result in approximately 3 feet of strong fast moving waters from the Skinners Flat Reservoir through the Wedderburn Township via the Calder Highway and out towards Wedderburn Junction Road,” Victorian emergency authorities said.

Residents in Benalla were also told to leave home immediately because of rapidly rising floodwaters.

People in Rochester were told to abandon their homes as floodwaters rapidly rose, with flooding expected to inundate the area from early Friday, and the river slated to peak in the afternoon.

Emergency relief centres were set up close to Rochester, Carisbrook and Seymour.

Those along the Campaspe River from Lake Eppalock to Barnadown were told to move to higher ground.

An emergency warning was also issued for Seven Creeks to Euroa.

Watch and act alerts urging people to stay indoors were widespread across the state.

Areas north of the Great Dividing Range were among the heaviest hit by the rain through Wednesday and Thursday, and more central areas also saw significant falls, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Between 9am and 6pm on Thursday, Pyalong recorded 62 millimetres of rain and Avalon Station saw 60mm.

While Strathbogie North saw 58mm of rain on Thursday, it had 187mm since Wednesday morning.

The weather was starting to clear out of western Victoria on Thursday night, and forecasters predicted it would improve for the state’s central parts and then into the east on Friday.

“Other than that rainfall over Gippsland and the eastern ranges (on Friday), the rest of the state’s really not going to see much … so, less than 5 millimetres for most places,” the bureau’s Bri Macpherson said on Thursday evening.

“Then over the weekend, it’s just really isolated showers most likely in the south of the state.”

While the rain would ease, there was still plenty of water that had to make its way through river systems and flow downstream.

“The peaks might not go through until (Friday) or Saturday for some of the river catchments, so even after the rain has stopped it’s important to keep an eye on the flood warnings.”

Earlier on Thursday, Victorian SES Chief Operations Officer Tim Wiebusch said Seymour was facing its highest flood level since 1974.

There was potential for 187 properties to be inundated by floodwaters and a further 279 to be isolated, he told reporters.

Authorities expected up to 700 properties in Rochester to be isolated by Friday, and Shepparton to experience its worst flood in almost three decades on Saturday afternoon, with up to 600 properties isolated.

The bureau warned of damaging wind gusts over elevated areas in the state’s central and eastern parts, but they were expected to clear eastwards on Thursday evening.

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