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Melbourne weather brings flash flooding to CBD and eastern suburbs as deluge dumped on city

By James Oaten and staff, Saturday December 15, 2018 - 09:48 EDT
ABC image
Gary O'Keefe said the rainfall and run-off from the nearby hills was "extraordinary". - ABC

Melburnians were yesterday warned to stay indoors and avoid floodwaters, after an afternoon storm dumped a deluge of rain on the city, causing flash flooding in the CBD and eastern suburbs.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said 37.2 millimetres of rain fell in the hour leading up to 5:45pm, before the storm moved west.

Victoria's emergency services issued a warning to people in the CBD and inner-east of the city to stay indoors and not to enter floodwaters.

The State Emergency Service (SES) had received 22 calls for help from people trapped in their cars by floodwaters, particularly in the western suburbs near Altona and at Dudley Street in South Melbourne.

The SES had received 515 calls for help from across Melbourne in the six hours leading up to 9:00pm, with Richmond, Malvern and Hawthorn in the inner-east the hardest hit.

Most of those calls were for flooding and building damage.

Flooding along Melbourne's train lines also affected commuters, as services were interrupted along the Belgrave, Lilydale, Glen Waverley and Alamein lines.

The rainfall has also prompted authorities to warn Melburnians against swimming at bayside beaches, as the heavy rains flush litter, animal waste and chemicals into Port Phillip Bay.

All bay beaches are likely to have poor water quality for the next week as a result of the rainfall, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) said.

"We know most people aren't keen for a swim while it's cold and raining, but poor water quality can persist for many days after the rain event when the weather may have improved," the EPA's Alison Kemp said in a statement.

Clean-up continues in state's north

Meanwhile, communities across Victoria's north are mopping up after flash flooding events inundated homes and stranded motorists.

Thursday's downpour delivered almost 80mm of rain to Wangaratta, while nearby Everton received 180mm of rain in a deluge that left around 100 motorists . Seventeen were rescued by helicopter.

About 20 homes were flooded in Birchip in the state's north-west, which received 130mm in a 24-hour period.

Video shared on social media showed a home with floodwaters lapping at the front step and inundating a garage.

Birchip resident Kellie Matthews said she had been stuck in her home, which was surrounded by floodwaters, since 9:00pm on Thursday.

"We're surrounded by water, so I haven't really ventured out today … there's me, my partner and we've got three kids," Ms Matthews said.

She said people in the small town were "surprised" by the impact of the flooding, which saw several residents leave their at-risk homes to take refuge at the local relief centre.

She said the water had started to recede at her property by mid-afternoon.

Wangaratta sports club flooded

Gary O'Keefe, a past president of the North Wangaratta Football and Netball Club, said the amount of rain that came down was extraordinary, leaving their newly carpeted clubrooms inundated.

"We've never seen anything like it coming down off these hills," he told the ABC.

"We've got about two feet of water in the social rooms. That's come off the adjacent hillsides, off the footy ground and it just had nowhere to go."

Club members had no sooner cleaned up after one flood when the rain came down again.

There was just no stopping the rain, Mr O'Keefe said.

"We'd just had it all swept out after the first deluge … then the next lot came in and we've got an extra 18 inches of water on top of it again."

It was another blow to the club, which has been unable to use its football oval for three years because of lead poisoning from a nearby shooting range.

Tarrawingee farmer Maree McInnes said the damage was "absolutely huge" at her 500-hectare property.

She said fencing and a pump shed had been lost, and a dam appeared to have a broken wall.

"The cattle we have up in the top corner, we don't even know what's happened to them yet," she said.

"It doesn't even look like our property at the moment. It just breaks your heart.

"Some of that fencing is brand new six months ago, and probably took us a while to do and now it's just gone."

'It's just smashed up our backyard'

Hayden Sharp, one of the owners of the Plough Inn at Tarrawingee, said the rain coming into the pub was "like a river".

"Like a torrent flowing through here," he said.

"We'll clean it up and work through it now and only then we'll find out what the real damage is.

"Some of the locals were saying it's probably one of the worst we've had here."

Tarrawingee homeowner Jonathan Correll said he was pretty lucky because the floodwaters didn't get into his house.

"It's just smashed up our backyard and taken out our fencing … just a lot of water causing quite a bit of damage," he said.

"We're much luckier than some people, so we've just got to clean it up and sort it out."

The Hume Freeway was closed between Barnawartha and Wangaratta on Friday morning, as tow trucks were brought in to remove the vehicles left stranded by the floodwaters.


© ABC 2018

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