ABORIGINAL art and 45 homes have been destroyed by severe floods in Western Australia’s east Kimberley region. Water continues to rise and 217 people have now been evacuated. The Fire and Emergency Services Authority have reminded people to remain vigilant after flooding struck several roads and bridges linking Derby, Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek and Warmun. In Warmun, 157 people were flown to Kununurra on Tuesday, 126 of whom relocated to Garrjang Village, a fly-in fly-out workers camp, while 31 others made their own arrangements to live elsewhere in Kununurra. The remaining 60 people were airlifted on Wednesday, SES says.
Warmun is renowned for its indigenous art, most of which has been wiped out by the floodwaters that filled the town’s arts centre. Horizon Power is continuing to work to restore power after floodwaters damaged the electricity network. Additional line crews and electricians have also been sent to minimise the power disruption and reconnect properties as quickly as possible, SES said.
Parts of the riverbank supporting the Fitzroy Crossing bridge have been washed away, prompting the relocation of up to 58 Fitzroy River Lodge guests and staff to Fitzroy Crossing Recreation Centre until they can be flown to Broome. SES said plans are under way to re-supply food, water and essential items to the remote indigenous communities of Djugearri and Koorabye in the Shire of Derby/West Kimberley.
At Halls Creek, 700kg of essential food items were distributed on Tuesday and another resupply was under way on Wednesday, transporting 8.4 tonnes of food. At Ringers Soak, a helicopter delivered two tonnes of bottled drinking water, food and medical supplies, while FESA worked with Coles to co-ordinate 20 pallets of food, water and essential items to Kununurra and Wyndham.
A further 18 pallets are due to arrive from Darwin and South Australia over the next few days, SES said. Horizon Power was investigating alternative options to maintain power generation in Halls Creek. Residents are being asked to reduce their electricity use where possible to help ease pressure on supplies.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Bureau of Meteorology said the river at Fitzroy Crossing was slightly higher than the record 2002 flood level and was expected to fluctuate near this level for the next 24 hours. Water levels at Fitzroy Crossing is expected to remain above the major flood mark for the next 48 hours, the bureau says. Downstream in the Noonkanbah area, the river level at 3pm on Wednesday was 11.7 metres and is expected to rise over the next couple of days.
The river level at Noonkanbah itself is expected to reach 12.2 metres and 12.4 metres during Friday into Saturday, the bureau said. At 3pm on Wednesday, the river level at Willare Bridge was 8.15 metres and rising. This will continue to rise during the week and is expected to reach nine metres by Monday.
The bureau says a flood warning is also in place for the Ord River catchment.