Flood surge

Awash: Floodwaters surge down Mount Emu Creek and lap over the Princes Highway near McKinnon’s Bridge. The highway remained closed to traffic until early Monday morning.

SKIPTON residents have begun the massive task of cleaning up their town after enduring two flood peaks in about 36 hours.
Surging down from flood stricken Beaufort upstream, the water inundated Skipton’s main street, completely flooding local businesses, including the supermarket, chemist and hotel.
Several houses were also flooded as locals watched on helplessly.
First peaking at 6.30am Friday, the floodwaters rose even higher at about 7pm Saturday – the water high enough to lap at the hotel’s window sills.
Following the course of the Mount Emu Creek, the floodwaters lapped at the Castle Carey Road bridge, forcing it’s closure, and streamed across the Princes Highway at McKinnon’s Bridge, forcing traffic to be diverted from Camperdown through to Cobden.
Corangamite Shire engineers are now in the process of inspecting homes, bridges and roads to assess their safety and, in the case of road infrastructure, whether or not they can be reopend to the public.
A relief centre has also been set up at the Skipton football ground where volunteers can register to help with clean-up efforts.
Volunteers can also register their willingness to help by contacting the shire offices directly on 5593 7100.
At least 14 properties in Derrinallum and Skipton were inundated.
Mopping up her home for the third time in just five months, Fiona Noone is philosophical about the inconvenience.
The Derrinallum resident’s Leemon’s Road home was first flooded in early August, again in September and had water lapping at the door on Friday.
“Our house is in the middle of a natural water course which flows down to us when the reservoir overflows, so there’s not much you can do about it,” she said.
“We woke up at 5am on Friday and water was running through our yard – it didn’t take long to build up though.”
Mrs Noone praised shire staff for their quick action, digging out a trench to drain the floodwater away.
“We had water in the house the first couple of times, but this time the trench is helping the water move through quicker and it’s only got to our front door.”
Following the line of the Mount Emu Creek, Derrinallum, Darlington and Panmure were bracing for the impact.
Derrinallum resident John Carr valiantly tried to keep floodwaters from washing over the road into his property on the eastern edge of town.
“The debris in the water tends to block the drains, so I’ve been digging them out to keep it moving,” he said.
“I’ve got about 20 sheep in the paddock behind the house too, they’re standing on a small high patch of ground at the moment, but if it gets any higher they’ll have to swim out.”
Mr Carr’s property also flooded in September.
Lismore mail contractor Narelle Uren said she wouldn’t have got through with the mail if she had not been in a four wheel drive.
“There’s water everywhere, but there was also a lot of fallen branches, so it’s pretty hairy in places,” she said.
“Kurweeton Road, Kurweeton Larra Road, Stewarts Road were all pretty bad – you wouldn’t even tackle it if you weren’t familiar with them.”
Derrinallum Post Office manager Larry Howard had a similar experience.
“In some places, the floodwater was up to the door seals on my ute,” he said.
“Carranballac Road was pretty bad and the water was over the Hamilton Highway just past Poligolet.”
In the lead up to the floods, Derrinallum recorded 140.4mm of rain in just five days.
Skipton recorded 145.4mm of rain in the same period.
By Saturday the surging water had followed Mount Emu Creek to Darlington, completely submerging the speedway and cricket ground and threatening the local bluestone hotel.
Surging on through Glenormistion, the floodwater lapped just under the Castle Carey Road bridge, eventually forcing its closure on Saturday night.
Life-time locals Val Crawford and her mother Sine Walker were astounded at the level of the creek.
“We were watching it at Dixie on Saturday night at about nine o’clock and it was still fairly slow moving,” she said.
“We came back around 10.30pm and it had risen at least a metre – it came up that quickly.”
Another local Myra Templeton viewed the flood from the back of her four wheel drive.
“The last time the creek was anything like this would have been back in the 50s or 60s,” she said.
“I’ve lived at Glenormiston all my life and remember when the old bridge went under.”
Further downstream and the Princes Highway was blocked to all traffic from mid Saturday afternoon through to early Monday, as torrents of water gushed under McKinnon’s Bridge and spilled across the highway.

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