24 October 2022

'Hay, Hell and Booligal' as flooding continues down the Murrumbidgee and Lower Lachlan

| Chris Roe
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The SES warns that the Murrumbidgee remains dangerous. Photo: Sharon Bailey.

Moderate rainfall across the weekend has seen rises along the Murrumbidgee River and ongoing releases from Burrinjuck Dam as operators work to create airspace to prepare for further rain.

With Burrinjuck back up to more than 105 per cent capacity, Water NSW has steadily increased releases, rising from 40,000 megalitres per day to 50,000 megalitres per day.

The ongoing rainfall may cause minor to moderate flooding at Gundagai and Wagga this week while moderate flooding continues at Narrandera and Darlington Point.

Carrathool is next in line with moderate levels expected, while Hay is bracing for major flooding above 8 metres from Tuesday with the peak expected towards the end of the week.

“Well, the river is certainly on the rise,” said Mayor Carol Oataway.

“This morning (24 October) we reached 7.84 meters which was 180 millimetres up from the same time yesterday.

“We’re expecting the peak through probably on the 28th of October.”

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The river level may reach around 8.40 metres and Cr Oataway said it’s unlikely to match the last major peak of 8.99.

“That’s lower than in 2012 when we had quite a major flood, but still it’s still quite substantial,” she said.

“We’ve had crews out patrolling 24/7, staff are working weekends, day and night, we’ve got pumps going and they’ve closed the floodgates but the rain’s not helping.”

The tiny village of Booligal is within Hay’s LGA on the lower Lachlan and has been hit hard.

“They’re higher than 1974, which was a big flood for us and now we’ve got lots of primary producers who are cut off and roads that are cut.”

But she said the declaration of a natural disaster will unlock further support for the shire.

“It’s actually good because we’ll be able to get support to our primary producers who are affected by the floods.”

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An additional 12 local government areas are now eligible for disaster assistance following the severe storms and flooding that continue to impact New South Wales.

Albury, Berrigan, Carrathool, Cobar, Federation, Griffith, Hay, Leeton, Murray River, Murrumbidgee, Narrandera and Wagga Wagga will all now undergo damage assessment.

Federal Minister for Emergency Management, Murray Watt, said help is on the way.

“The intense floods have left councils with major repair works, so we’ve made assistance available to help Councils with the cost of rebuilding essential infrastructure and recovery operations to get them underway as soon as possible,” he said.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said more flood assistance can now be delivered across the Riverina.

“The flooding we are seeing across large parts of inland New South Wales is ongoing, slow-moving and widespread which is making it challenging to assess the damage and impact as the emergency response continues,” Ms Cooke said.

“We are continuing to assess the impacts of this flood event as quickly as possible, with disaster declarations like these the crucial first step in unlocking assistance for those in need.”

Major roads remain closed in the Riverina with the Sturt Highway closed from Collingullie to Darlington Point and the Newell Highway closed south to Jerilderie.

You can keep up to date with road closures here, and monitor flood levels here.

For emergency help in floods and storms, call the NSW SES on 132 500.

In life-threatening situations, call triple zero (000) immediately.

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