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Farmers celebrate rain as Tasmania braces for downpour to continue

By Edith Bevin and Tamara Glumac, Friday May 11, 2018 - 05:43 EST
ABC image
Farmer Tim Lyne celebrates the rain. His 40-megalitre dam was completely empty just last week. - ABC

Fifth-generation east coast farmer Jack Cotton says Thursday's rains have broken what was the driest drought he has seen in 40 years of farming.

He had already cut stock numbers by about 2,000 head because of the drought and was considering cutting more.

He had been hand-feeding sheep for months.

Mr Cotton said so far the rains had been soaking in but there was a possibility of run-off and flooding if the falls got heavier.

He said while the city folk may be complaining about the rain, on his farm they were celebrating.

"There's nothing like the sound of rain on a tin roof," he said.

"Rain means money, it's certainly a relief.

"It makes the business more productive — instead of having to buy feed or de-stock livestock, it means we can keep going," he said.

He said the current conditions were the worst he had ever seen.

"And we've had some pretty nasty droughts back in the mid-2000s, and even the spring of 2015," he said.

East coast inundated

Half of Tasmania has been on flood watch since Thursday morning.

The biggest rainfall has been on the east coast, with the town of Orford receiving 80 millimetres of rain between 9:00am and 7:00pm.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Simon McCulloch said the falls had been steady and constant, rather than a deluge.

"The low-pressure system that's bringing this rain will probably still going to influence us until about mid afternoon," Mr McCulloch said.

"Heaviest falls have been in places that have been quite rain deficient in recent times so on the east coast a lot of places there haven't had any decent rain falls since last December."

The State Emergency Service had to call in standby crews on Thursday night to respond to reports of damage to properties in the state's south.

"Mostly we've had calls for assistance for water entering houses through roofs, gutters and windows," acting manager for southern regional Tasmania Mark Dance said.

"Other calls have been about windows being partially blowing in on houses."

Several garden sheds were blown away, and one large shed storing a whole household of furniture lost its roof at Dodges Ferry.

Water restriction to stay

The downpour has not been enough to lift stage-one water restrictions at Orford and Triabunna.

The region was put on the restrictions , with residents asked to reduce outdoor water usage by 20 per cent.

A TasWater spokesman said Thursday's rainfall and the forecast for the coming days would not be enough to replenish water storages.

A plan to release water from the Upper Prosser River was still in place, the spokesman said.


© ABC 2018

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