Floods batter bushfire-ravaged Vic town

Floodsbatter bushfire-ravaged Vic town

24 February 2007

published by www.smh.com.au

Sydney, Australia — A small Victorian community hit hard by recent bushfireshas been dealt another blow with flash flooding and mudslides destroying onehome and damaging several others.

State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers spent Saturday helping residentsclean up after a severe storm lashed the Gippsland township of Licola, in thestate’s south-east, about 10pm (AEDT) on Friday.

A SES spokesman said the storm sent one-metre-high floodwaters rushingthrough the town, pushing cars up against trees and leaving a 30cm layer of mudin homes and businesses.

“The damage is absolutely incredible,” the spokesman said.

“We’ve seen a lot of flood damage and I don’t think I’ve ever seenanything so severe as what’s happened here.”

Floodwater combined with ash from the recent bushfires and other debris fromthe fires to create a thick slush that washed off the surrounding hills into thetownship.

The spokesman said one home was destroyed after being lifted off its stumpsand three others were badly damaged.

“There’s been flooding to several homes in the area,” he said.

“One house has actually been lifted off its stumps, and several othershave had a substantial amount of mud through them.”

SES volunteers armed with mops, wheelbarrows and shovels have spent much ofSaturday removing mud from property.

They also used air bags to move cars pushed against trees.

“There’s been a few cars pushed up against trees and so the volunteershave had to use the air bags to lift them off.”

The township was barely recovering from the bushfires in December and January,which left surrounding hills blackened and bare of vegetation.

The owner of the Licola general store, Ray Winter, said the flooding tookresidents by surprise.

“It’s come through the shop and come through the caravan park andthrough the whole town,” he told ABC Radio.

“It’s just left debris, it looks like a tsunami has come through thejoint.”

Mr Winter said the town was trying to recover from the bushfires when it washit by flooding.

“We saved our business and we saved the caravan park, but since we’vedone that our business has dropped because there’s been no tourism up here,”he said.

“If that was bad enough, now we’ve got the town that’s just been flooded.It’s just devastating.”

Weatherzone meteorologist Matt Pearce said much of Victoria received rain inthe past 24 hours.

“The storms have been triggered by a near-stationary trough of lowpressure that has been sitting across Victoria over the last two weeks,” MrPearce said.

The highest rainfall totals occurred in the ranges of eastern Victoria, with15mm recorded at Mount Useful, 14mm at Mount Hotham, Omeo and Combienbar and13mm at Mount Wellington.

Some Melbourne suburbs have also picked up between five and 10mm from therain band.

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