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Storm of the century

Suddenly a lake: a flooded paddock just south of Kongwak on Saturday morning, after the Powlett River overflowed.

BASS Coast Shire Council engineers are calling Friday’s storm a one in 100 year event.
Already sodden ground couldn’t cope with the downpour, flooding highways and roads and sending aged trees crashing to the ground.
South Gippsland Shire Council received over 70 calls for help, including 28 for water over roads and 42 for fallen trees, while Bass Coast Shire Council had 100 from Friday afternoon through to Saturday.
Water washed over about 40 of the roads Bass Coast Council is responsible for, shutting Heslop Road, Wonthaggi and McCraws Road, Wattlebank.
The Bass Highway was closed at Kilcunda.
SES crews rescued people in cars trapped by floodwater on Bass Coast Highway at Kilcunda and at Lance Creek. No one was hurt.
Two South Gippsland Council roads remain closed; Wooreen Mirboo Road in Berrys Creek – 1km from Strzelecki Hwy on the eastern side to O’Loughlin’s dairy on the west – and Stewart and Dunlops Road in Buffalo, between McRae Road and Breens Road.
South Gippsland Water’s storages remain full to the brim, with Lance Creek recording 62mm of rain in the past week, Fish Creek’s Battery Creek 67mm, Leongatha’s Ruby Creek 59mm, Korumburra’s Coalition Creek 49mm, Foster’s Deep Creek 74mm and Poowong/Loch/Nyora’s Little Bass 49mm.
For the shire’s arts and leisure co-ordinator Jenny Churchill, the text said it all: “Bourne Creek’s gone.”
For the first time in the 35 years that she has been driving from her Kilcunda home to local government offices in Wonthaggi, Ms Churchill said she didn’t know how she’d get home.
“It’s the only time I’ve ever thought what do I do? I’ve never seen water like it.”
Water was coming over the Bass Highway at Dalyston as well as at the Kilcunda Trestle Bridge.
Ms Churchill wound her way along back roads towards home up on Ridge Road, where Bourne Creek starts.
The property is at the top of a hill, but her house is down lower.
She saw water running “like a river” down cow tracks and a section of road was washed out so she had to rev her car through.
“It’s the worst I’ve ever experienced and I was wondering how far through the paddocks I’d have to walk!,” Ms Churchill said.
The road at the front of her property was washed out to the gateway, bluestone gouged to a depth of seven inches (17.5cm).
Struggling inside, she found her bathroom flooded.
“Water came through the hot water service and was also on its way into the laundry.”
At the weekend, she went into the paddocks to check on the cattle and had a bird’s eye view of the surrounding soaked countryside.
“It was ‘a bit damp’ around the desal,” she said with understatement.
The Wonthaggi desalination plant is at Williamsons Beach, right where the Powlett River meets the sea.
Ms Churchill wasn’t the only motorist struggling home at day’s end.
Star staff joined a throng diverted from Bass Highway up Turnbull-Woolamai Road between Dalyston and Kilcunda. Traffic had to take the detour in both directions on a narrow road awash in places with floodwater.
During mid-afternoon, the Phillip Island Road near Anderson where protracted road works are creating a new section of highway, was under deep floodwater.
Fielding constant calls from worried motorists, Wonthaggi Police were advising people at that stage that it was their decision whether to drive through. But the water cleared quickly and the road was almost dry by evening.
An integration aide at Kongwak Primary School, Tammy Rowley said the road from Kongwak to Outtrim was covered in water.
She left there at 1.30pm on Friday.
“I had to go around a lot of water on the roads. There were signs saying ‘water on the road’ and it was deep enough that I didn’t want to drive through it. Last winter there was a bit, but not like this.”
The sodden ground caused one of the old pine trees lining the back of Wonthaggi’s Guide Park to collapse.
Bass Coast Shire Council infrastructure maintenance manager Jamie Sutherland said shire crews had more than 100 calls for help between Friday afternoon through to Saturday.
Mr Sutherland said McCraws Road is still closed because of road damage and he could not say when it might re-open. Heslop Road is open again.
Crews were out working all weekend and are currently assessing the worst affected areas.
Council engineers said flooding in McKenzie Street, Wonthaggi adjacent to the new Centennial Centre would not have been caused by construction there or at the nearby Bunnings’ site.
Mr Sutherland said flooding often happens in McKenzie Street when there is heavy rain and Friday’s downpour came on top of an already extremely wet May. He said the road is designed so that water drains away.
While acknowledging the area is very wet, Murray Goulburn transport manager Brad Close said Friday’s floods didn’t cause problems for the afternoon milk pick-up.
VicRoads’ acting regional director Sebastian Motta said yesterday afternoon that inspections will be carried out once flood waters recede. Information about roads impacted by floods is available on 13 11 70 or on the VicRoads web site.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=3605

Posted by on May 30 2012. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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