Walkaway flood evacuation plans underway

Anita KirkbrightGeraldton Guardian

Emergency services are preparing for the possibility of having to evacuate residents from Walkaway in coming days after heavy rainfall associated with ex tropical cyclone Joyce.

Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn said the City of Greater Geraldton’s Emergency Response Group were making preliminary plans as rainfall further inland raised the risk of flooding of the Greenough River at Walkaway, south of Geraldton.

Mr Van Styn said the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Geraldton would be prepared as a potential evacuation centre and tomorrow excavators would clear the mouth of Greenough River so that rising water could run through to the sea, reducing the risk water backing up and causing flooding.

At 4.50pm the Bureau of Meteorology had an initial flood warning in place for the Greenough River Catchment and the De Grey River Catchment. There is also a flood watch for the Gascoyne and Central West District river catchments.

Mr Van Styn said the City would monitor river activity in the Gascoyne, which would serve as an early warning of what was likely to happen in the Greenough River area in the next 24-48 hours.

He said there was no cause for panic, but that people in the area should monitor the Bureau of Meteorology website and be prepared to evacuate if necessary.

Mr Van Styn said if the Greenough River reached similar levels as it did in 2006 it would necessitate the evacuation of Walkaway residents. In 2006 the river reached a height of 4.5m.

He said rainfall was expected mostly well inland in the Greenough river catchment area, with heavy rainfall on Tuesday and the river expected to peak as high as 3.5m on Wednesday.

“There is no need to panic. We are staying well ahead of any risk and getting prepared well in time so it will be ready if needed,” Mr Van Styn said.

The City of Greater Geraldton has issued a flood warning after advice from Department of Fire and Emergency Services and Bureau of Meteorology of significant river rises and areas of flooding which may develop in the Greenough River catchment in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Heavy rainfall of possible 50-100mm has been forecast over the Greenough River catchment tonight and tomorrow.

The City said swollen river water and flooding may adversely affect road conditions and some roads may become impassable and communities in the river catchment areas may become isolated.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services advises people and communities to be aware that flooding is possible and be prepared to relocate equipment and livestock. Watch water levels. Travellers need to be aware that road conditions may be adversely affected and travel plans may need to be reconsidered. Do not drive into water of unknown depth and velocity.

Residents and visitors are advised:

To maintain awareness via the Bureau of Meteorology www.bom.gov.au and Emergency WA www.emergency.wa.gov.au

Ensure your home and family are prepared for significant rainfall, strong winds, and possible localised flooding

In a life-threatening emergency, contact 000

For assistance in a non-life threatening emergency contact the State Emergency Service on 132 500

Monitor local media outlets for further updates

Do not enter flood waters, avoid swollen rivers and flooded roads and crossings and ensure children do not enter or play in storm water drains, channels, sumps and other potentially dangerous infrastructure.

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