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Flood of information

Firebrace and Hamilton streets in Horsham was under water in 1956, not long after the opening of the town''s first swimming pool, seen top left in the picture.

People keen to understand what impact a flood similar to a dramatic 1909 event would have on the Wimmera today now have finger-tip access to the most up-to-date information available.
As part of a 100-year commemoration of the 1909 flood, Wimmera Catchment Management Authority has loaded flood-mapping information gleaned from several years of study onto its website www.wcma.vic.gov.au
Results of various reports, using the most up-to-date analysis methods, have established a broad ‘considering what happened then, what would happen now?’ picture.
Reports from August and September, 1909, detail how an extreme weather system dumped about 82 millimetres of rain across the Wimmera catchment.
‘Violent’ thunderstorms and ‘fierce’ wind accompanied the heavy rain and between August 21 and 24, 1909, Wimmera centres of Horsham, Glenorchy, Warracknabeal, Dimboola, Jeparit and Rupanyup were subject to widespread flooding.
Photographs and first-hand accounts of the time reveal the impact the flood had on fledgling rural communities.
Wimmera CMA floodplain manager Clare Wilson said the 1909 flood, the biggest recorded in the region, provided a benchmark for regional studies.
“The key aspect of our studies is that they have considered the size of flows from previous Wimmera floods such as the 1909 event and adapted them to a modern landscape,” she said.
“This has involved combining historical flood-flow information with the most up-to-date aerial and ground surveying methods available. Expert flood modellers have provided scientifically-based data that provides us with the clearest understanding yet of what might happen if we experience another big flood.
“Based on what happened in 1909 and subsequent floods, understanding the extent, flow and potential impact of Wimmera floods is crucial in limiting a physical, economic, social and environmental disaster or tragedy.”
Mrs Wilson said Wimmera CMA had completed comprehensive flood studies for Halls Gap, Yarriambiack Creek-Wimmera River, Jeparit, Glenorchy, Dimboola, Horsham and Warracknabeal.
“It means we have an understanding of what might happen and what’s at risk,” Mrs Wilson said.
“Wimmera CMA is working with various councils and agencies and have already had community information sessions, prepared flood brochures and provided advice to specific property owners at risk of flooding,” she said.
Between August 21 and 24 in 1909, floodwater spilled from the Wimmera River and Yarriambiack and Dunmunkle creeks and raced through towns and across open country.
Only six houses escaped inundation at Glenorchy. Water flowing 4.8 kilometres wide was 1.6 metres deep through Rupanyup. Yarriambiack Creek burst its banks at various locations, spilling through Warracknabeal and on to Beulah.
For three days water flooded through Horsham, Dimboola and Jeparit, inundating houses, businesses, crops and roads. After backing up at Jeparit it then continued on to lakes Hindmarsh and Albacutya before filling lakes Coorong and Lascelles and pushing further to various Mallee swamps and depressions.
Other waterways across the state, including the Loddon River system, also experienced severe flooding.
Mrs Wilson said anyone keen to view flood-mapping could visit Wimmera CMA’s website www.wcma.vic.gov.au and follow the links.

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Posted on Aug 26 2009

Posted by on Aug 26 2009. Filed under Community. 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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