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NT Police issue flood alert as Katherine River approaches 15 metres

By Steve Vivian and Sowaibah Hanifie , Saturday February 20, 2021 - 23:17 EDT

The Northern Territory town of Katherine is on flood alert as the Katherine River nears its tipping point.

Minor flooding can already be seen on some roads around the town, located about 320 kilometres south of Darwin.

Water levels at Maud Creek have flooded a significant section of Gorge Road and blocked access to Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) for travellers.

Northern Territory Police are urging residents to stay away from the rising floodwaters in the wake of the Katherine River nearing 15 metres this morning.

Light rainfall, which could further raise the Katherine River level, is currently forecast for the weekend.

The police alert came after the Bureau of Meteorology issued a minor flood warning late on Friday following widespread rainfall totals of 40-70mm over parts of the Katherine River.

NT Police Commander Janelle Tonkin reminded residents to exercise caution around any low-level flooding.

"We say it often, however the message remains the same: Please don't drive through flooded causeways, don't go into flooded waterways and don't launch watercrafts into swollen rivers," she said.

"The unseen hazards under floodwaters could result in serious consequences."

Commander Tonkin said flooding was not expected in Katherine today and police would advise the community if any further action was required.

She also said an image currently circulating on social media pages of a person on a jet ski on the Katherine River this morning was concerning.

"While this is not a criminal offence, it is just plain dangerous and, in the instance someone becomes trapped or stuck in the river, they don't just put themselves at risk but our local emergency services members at risk also," she said.

Mohammed Asgher, the onsite manager at Knotts Crossing Resort, which is situated close to the river on the road out of Katherine towards Nitmiluk, said the resort had not yet been affected by the rising water levels.

"At this stage, we are just getting ourselves prepared internally in case anything happens and if we have to vacate," he said.

"If the water levels keep rising, I think we will get a notification to vacate or makes some other arrangements.

"We can't say in the next 24 to 36 hours what the situation will be."

Katherine Mayor Elisabeth Clark said some Katherine residents, after experiencing a run of below-average wet seasons, were welcoming the rain.

"I think after the last [few years] of very dry wet seasons, the thing I'm hearing around town is that water tanks are full this year for the first time in a few years and everyone is very happy about the rain at this point," she said.

Ms Clark said the bulging river waters had begun to stir reactions of both excitement and concern in the town.

"Everyone likes to have a look to see how high it is and see what they would like to do," she said.


© ABC 2021

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