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Our Island Home of Bourke

The flooded Kidman Way, south towards Cobar, was closed to all traffic on Monday. Photo Twh

Tricia Duffield

Bourke is almost an island, with the only road access for light traffic in and out of town northwards via the Mitchell Highway.

On Monday morning, the Kidman Way south to Cobar was closed to all traffic.

The Mitchell highway to Sydney was also closed to all light traffic.

Bourke Shire Council General Manager, Leonie Brown, said those major access roads were now only accessible to high profile vehicles and four-wheel drives, with an escort, and only between 8am and 6pm daily.

There is no access to the waste disposal facility on the Kidman Way, and temporary waste disposal skips had been set up near the Bourke cemetery.

On Monday, Mrs Brown said all eyes were on the levee bank, which she was confident would keep the town safe, despite the river rising close to its maximum heights of 15.5 metres.

“The Bureau of Meteorology has revised the flood peak to 14 metres and the good news is that the peak is slowing,” she said.

“We have everything in hand as best as we can, and we just hope that peak stays at 13.9 metres.

“It really is time for this flood to move along, and we hope it won’t reach that 14-metre mark.

“The important thing is that the town is in safe hands, the levee is secure at 15.5 metres and the Wharf at 14.5 metres and Council is monitoring those levels and can put in a temporary levee extension at the Wharf if required.”

The wharf deck and the surrounding recreation area has been cordoned off to discourage curious onlookers and children from venturing into what has become a dangerous area.

The problems at North Bourke are more acute, however, with one house being flooded and other residents protecting their properties with sandbags.

“Polygonum Swamp and North Bourke have temporary levees and sadly, on Saturday night, one of residences was inundated and evacuated,” Mrs Brown said.’

“It was very unfortunate, as we had hoped we could have saved every home.

“There have been calls for sandbags and the SES and council staff have done a mighty job packing the sandbags, so if you if residents need assistance with those, they can call the SES on 132500 and we can get them to people to protect their properties,” she said.

Further downstream, the situation has been equally dire, with Tilpa residents urged to evacuate and Louth residents holding their breath and watching the river levels, hoping the recent raising of the levee bank height will be enough to keep them safe.

“Council received funding for a local contractor to carry out remedial work on the Louth levee and we are hopeful that levee will hold, and the community will be safe,” Mrs Brown said.

Read more local news in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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