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Flood is history in the making

Bourke is surrounded by floodwaters as Saturday as the peak passes downstream towards Louth.. Photo Kylie Fisher of Land and Life Photography

Bourke is witnessing a history-making flood, as the mighty Darling River falls from its massive peak, the third highest in living memory.

As the peak made its way past Bourke, the floodwaters took with it at least one home at North Bourke, washed away fences and culverts, flooded vast tracts of pasture and destroyed roads.

Residents who thought they’d seen it all before were awe-struck by the height of the river.

It peaked at 13.95 metres, the highest flood at Bourke since 1976 and the third biggest flood in living memory after 1974 and 1976.

For many residents, the floods of the 1970’s are unforgettable memories of their childhood. The flood of 2022 will be the first experience of such an event for many younger citizens as they witness history happening right before their eyes.

Social media has been a gallery of astonishing images of newly created islands, homes and towns completely encircled by floodwater, and roads barely recognisable as they disappeared under the flow. The Alice Edwards Village west of Bourke is completely encircled by water and had to be evacuated two weeks ago.

At Bourke airport, SES crews and other emergency services are frantically loading supplies for isolated properties, towns and villages up and down the river.

Bourke Mayor Barry Hollman said, at the peak, more than 200,000 megalitres was passing town every day and he hoped the Darling wouldn’t reach the more serious level of 14 metres.

“That would have put the town under stress and would be bad news for people outside the levee,” he said.

“The town is secure; we have daily patrols of the levee and there is no concern there.

“I’m sorry we lost one house at North Bourke, and I want to thank all the people who have worked so hard to keep us safe - the SES volunteers, the RFS, police - and our council staff who have worked tirelessly every day.

“I also want to thank our General Manager, Leonie Brown, and I hope the people of Bourke appreciate the hard work she has put in during this flood.

“She has done an incredible job,” Councillor Hollman said.


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