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WA flooding causes widespread devastation

Monday December 20, 2010 - 19:51 EDT
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A phone box and Caltex station on the outskirts of Carnarvon inundated by floodwaters - ABC
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Rescues by boats have been suspended after two capsized in turbulent floodwaters -
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Aerial shot of a woman and a child, plus chickens, wait on the flat carport roof as a man in a truck watches floodwaters swirl around near Carnarvon - ABC

Authorities say floods in Western Australia's Gascoyne region have caused widespread damage to crops and pastoral stations.

A station owner at Mooloo Downs, more than 200 kilometres east of Carnarvon, expects to have lost a significant number of cattle.

Jim Caunt says he has been isolated at the station's homestead since Friday night.

"Everything has changed about this place," he said.

"The creek bed here could be 700 metres wide. There's just new creek channels cut everywhere. There's places where there used to be windmills - they're 20 foot up in gum trees.

"There's cows stuffed in forks of trees. We're expecting things not to be too good when we get out there."

Carnarvon banana grower Tom Day says the floodwaters have caused significant damage to crops and properties around the town.

"With the river running through the bottom end of my property, it's about two-and-a-half, three metres of water through there, so I'm pretty certain I'll lose crops there for sure," he said.

"We're waterlogged and we're already losing bunches [of] palms falling over before we got the river."

The State Government says flood-affected areas are likely to be declared a natural disaster zone.

Premier Colin Barnett has flown to Carnarvon with Agriculture Minister Terry Redman.

Mr Barnett says the safety of residents remains the top priority.

"The immediate concern today is to make sure that contact is made with all the pastoral stations so that we can be assured that everyone is accounted for, everyone is safe," he said.

"And if anyone needs to be evacuated, that can take place."

More than 100 stations and at least 16 Aboriginal communities have been cut off by the floods.

FESA spokesman Les Hayter says authorities are working to deliver food and water supplies.

"They've been cut off and I believe there's also been some power outages," he said.

"I believe Western Power is dealing with that and they're hoping to get that back on so that they can remain in those locations."

Meanwhile authorities say a flood warning remains in place for Carnarvon.

Mr Hayter says levee banks on the outskirts of town are still holding.

"With the water receding slowly, we are hopeful that that levee bank, once it's got past the point of the high level of the water, we hope that that will stay in place and we can see the water slowly but surely going out to sea and dropping significantly over the next couple of days," he said.

Suburbs outside the levees have been inundated and in some cases, people have had to be rescued from roofs.

- ABC

© ABC 2010

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