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Food airlifts and heavy equipment dropped in as communities face isolation

Walgett IGA waits for supplies to arrive by air. Photo contributed

Tricia Duffield

The State Emergency Service is warning communities along the Barwon Darling river system to be prepared for lengthy isolation as the river levels rise and roads remain closed.

Walgett and Lightning Ridge are isolated and had supplies dropped by air on Monday, Brewarrina is likely to be isolated within the next week and there are concerns that Bourke could be isolated if the flood peak reaches the expected 13.8 metres by Sunday 20th November..

Senior spokesperson for the SES David Rankine said residents should monitor the Bourke Council website for updates on those road closures as the huge flow makes its way down the Darling River.

Louth will be effectively isolated by the end of the month and Tilpa will be isolated by the beginning of November.

The flooding has seen the SES and the Rural Fire Service Mitigation team working together on emergencies as they arise, including food drops and using heavy left helicopters to drop in earthmoving equipment.

The most critical area at the moment was around Walgett and Mr Rankine said the shire was effectively cut off by road in all directions as the huge flows down the Macintyre and Barwon rivers, fed by flows from the Namoi, converged at Walgett.

“The flow into those rivers is so expansive at the delta in Walgett that you wouldn’t know which part of river you were on at the moment,” Mr Rankine said.

Heavy vehicles which were bringing in food supplies to Walgett and Lightning Ridge can no longer access those communities and Mr Rankine said aircraft were now involved in a re-supply effort to supply essential food and medical supplies.

“In a joint effort with our friends at the RFS Mitigation Unit, we delivered by plane 158 crates of bread from Dubbo to those communities on Monday - 88 for the Walgett IGA and 64 to the Lightning Ridge IGA and the rest to others providers, so that’s about 2000 loaves of bread delivered in one day as part of an ongoing re-supply effort.

“If you are a business owner and you need re-supply of goods, particularly if you are a food business, call the SES on 132500 and we can begin to work with you on arranging deliveries as part of a daily fixed wing re-supply effort.

“Many of the requests for supply are isolated graziers outside the levees and we are also making pathology runs in and out of these communities for Local Health District services, which are still taking blood samples and running medical services.

“We expect we will be continuing to provide re-supply right through until Christmas,” Mr Rankine said.

Ferry services were also operating for some of the outlying villages around the Walgett Shire, including Gingi and Namoi villages where some residents had decided to stay put.

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