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Victoria weather: '10 out of 10' storm label 'overused', Lapsley admits, as residents mop up record-breaking rain

By Andie Noonan and staff, Monday December 4, 2017 - 13:51 EDT

The weather bureau has been "spoken to" about the sort of language that was used during weather warnings ahead of record-breaking rain which flooded parts of Victoria's north-east, the state's Emergency Commissioner has said.

The Bureau of Meteorology and Victorian emergency services have faced criticism after the three-day deluge did not result in the flooding many were expecting.





While the threat has eased, a remains in place for Seven Creeks and Castle Creek near Euroa, as well as the Yarra River in the Watts River catchment, east of Melbourne.

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said many areas got the rain that was predicted — including Mount Wombat which received 228 millimetres — although the heavier rains were further east than expected.

"It's easy in hindsight to look back at the decisions made. I'll stand strong, if we get it wrong I'm the first to say we got it wrong," Mr Lapsley told ABC Radio Melbourne.

"I think on this one we've taken every piece of information and been able to communicate it.

"The variance was the location, the timing and the intensity of the rain event."



Mr Lapsley said it was important to get messages about severe weather events to the public right.

"I think there are a couple of learnings out of this about the early narrative," he told ABC Radio Melbourne.

"We already have spoken to the bureau about that, to get that narrative right and make sure it's absolutely connected to what the message needs to be. The '10 out of 10' I think was overused.

"I'm not saying the forecaster got it wrong, because he's an expert … however I think coming off that, that set a bar that was right up there.

"It is so important to get the narrative right and so important to be able to communicate the story."



Mr Lapsley said emergency services had a responsibility to be open about potential dangers with the forecast information available.

"We had to take it seriously, it was the right thing to do," he said.

'There could have been fatalities'

Euroa Caravan and Cabin Park owner Kristy Hourigan said if it was not for the warnings, someone staying at the park may have lost their life.

"We weren't going to close the park, we weren't going to cancel bookings," she told ABC Goulburn Murray.

"Because of what they said, we did cancel the bookings and we're very grateful we did because otherwise we would've had 30 caravans and tent sites here and the way that water rose I think there would've been a fatality."

She said in some areas in the park the floodwaters were over her head.



Ms Hourigan said damage to the caravan park would cost more than $45,000 to repair after powered sites went under water.

She said about 30 powerheads would each have to be replaced at a cost of $1,500 to $1,800.

Ms Hourigan, who took over the caravan park about eight months ago, said she was unable to get insurance for the park and the damage was "devastating".

"We're going to chat with the electrician about getting different ideas about what we can do because we don't want to be faced with this every time we get a flood," she said.



Heather Darcy from Wangaratta said she was relieved about the warnings and thought it was better to prepare for the worst.

"We just know what to do, we just get in and do it. I think it was good they warned of major [flooding], at least we prepared for it," she said.

Wangaratta local John McGauran said the floodwaters from the Oven River were "well down" compared to past floods.

"The way they were talking this was going to be a major flood," he said.

"But this is only a minor to moderate flood and everyone was panicking."



Ovens River reaches peak as more rains hit state

Some minor flood warnings are also in place as .

The , where some homes were damaged over the weekend.

Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) forecaster Dean Stewart said the swollen Ovens River had eased and was expected to reach a peak of 12.2 metres Monday afternoon.

"The good news is that's only reaching the minor flood level," he said.



"Whilst some low-lying areas might be affected, it shouldn't have any significant impacts on the township."

A riverside caravan park was evacuated last night.

Mr Stewart said parts of Melbourne experienced heavy showers early on Monday, and the state's east was still in line for more rain.

"That shower activity will increase over the far north-east of the state late afternoon into this evening, with the risk of some thunderstorm activity, but generally falls are going to be less than 10 millimetres," Mr Stewart said.



He said far eastern parts of Gippsland were expected to get more rain late on Tuesday and into Wednesday, with potential falls of up to 50mm, which could lead to minor flooding.

"Fortunately, east Gippsland has been drier compared with other parts of the state over a month or so, so it's able to absorb some of the expected rain, so at this stage our latest modelling suggests it may lead to some minor flooding," he said.

The worst-hit town over the weekend was Euroa, about 160 kilometres north of Melbourne, where some homes and a caravan park were damaged.



Premier Daniel Andrews said on Saturday although flooding had been less severe than expected, some residents and businesses would still need support.

"There'll be some support for anybody who has to leave their home. Then there's some other grants for those who are out of their home and have significant damage to their principal place of residence," he said.

"This has been a significant event. Luckily, not quite as significant as we thought it would be.

"But it's a credit to the planning and the co-operation of the Victorian community, and a credit to the commitment and dedication of our emergency services, that we were able to say we were very well prepared."


- ABC

© ABC 2017

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