Floodwaters cut off Kimberley, Pilbara communities

Kids enjoy floodwaters at Fitzroy Crossing; Photo; Tony Barrass
Aerial shot of Fitzroy Crossing. Photo; Luke Bevan via ABC Online
Aerial shot of Fitzroy Crossing. Photo; Luke Bevan via ABC Online

Rising floodwaters are cutting off dozens of indigenous communities right across Western Australia, and it could be up 10 days before the water recedes.

In Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley, many people are stranded in the town and now looking for accommodation with family members as the Great Northern Highway, both north and south of the regional centre, is closed.

Thankfully, the local IGA is well stocked and plans are now being put into place to start dropping food and water supplies by chopper to several community outposts.

Levels have now exceeded the 2011 flood which saw waters cause millions of dollars’ damage to local infrastructure such as bridges and roads.

The WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services now advises that;

  • Great Northern Highway is closed in both directions from Derby Highway Intersection to Halls Creek.
  • Great Northern Highway is closed due to high water levels at Blina floodway (approximately 85km south east of the of Derby Highway intersection) and floodways immediately east of Fitzroy Crossing;
  • Gibb River Road is closed to all vehicles in both directions from Blina turn-off (West End) to Great Northern Highway turn-off (East End).

The Weather Bureau reports that river rises and flooding are expected to continue in the West Kimberley District during Friday into Saturday.

A trough lies over the Kimberley to the inland Pilbara and is expected to persist over the coming days. A weak tropical low west of Broome will move westwards away from the west Kimberley coast over the next few days.

In the Pilbara it’s a similar story, with roads cut right across the region and communities stranded in the rising floodwaters.

But it’s not all bad news. Dinghies are now being used by locals to go hunting, with a range of “easy pickings” of goanna, kangaroo and pigs searching for high ground, or the safety of trees to escape the floodwaters.

For further information, visit emergency.wa.gov.au or bom.gov.au

Tony Barrass, in Fitzroy Crossing

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