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Communities Warned as river powers on

Doug Berthold has a daily boat trip to and from work across the River Road washout. Photo TWH

Tricia Duffield

There are renewed warnings about flooding risk across the Bourke, Brewarrina and Walgett Shires, with the huge rivers and persistent rain across the region raising concern that some communities face the very real prospect of isolation.

On Tuesday, the State Emergency Service and police met with community members at the Alice Edwards Village in Bourke to warn of possible isolation as the floodwaters move down the Barwon and Darling Rivers.

SES Senior Communications Manager Dave Rankine said the village was at risk of isolation due to inundation.

“Volunteers from the SES joined with police at the meeting on Tuesday to let the residents know that flooding was likely,” Mr Rankine said. “Alice Edwards Village is likely to flood if the river reaches 12.7 metres and at this stage, we are expecting it to make 12.9 metres, which is why we had to get the warnings to the residents there.”

Mr Rankine stressed the importance of remaining safe in the current – and unprecedented – wet weather and said the risk of drowning in the current conditions was very real.

“We have had four deaths across the western region in the past few weeks as a result of people ignoring road closures and driving through floodwaters and creeks,” he said.

“We urge people to make sensible decisions on the road particularly travellers who may not be familiar with conditions.

“I don’t know how else we can drum it in – but there are still people driving through floodwaters and drowning.

“We don’t want the decision to take the risk and drive through floodwaters to be the last drive you make.

“We have seen too many deaths,” he said.

Meanwhile, forecasters are predicting more rain and isolated thunderstorms across the western region by the weekend, adding to the flood risks.

Mr Rankine said the huge flood event in Moree, Narrabri and Wee Waa would make its way into the Barwon-Darling system and push the levels to major flooding at around 12.9 metres for Bourke and at Walgett to around 12.3 metres.

“There is a lot of water coming down from the lower MacIntyre and the Namoi Rivers and all this water is flooding down from Narrabri and Wee Waa and making its way past Walgett, which will likely see a prolonged flood peak for at least the next three weeks,” he said.

“As a result, we will certainly see the likes of Bourke reach major flood levels by November 2 to November 5 and we expect the Barwon-Darling to continue to rise and stay around that level certainly till the end of November and possibly into Christmas.”

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