Early warning proved a godsend

DAMAGE caused to farms and homes by the rising waters of the Meander River was considerably lessened due to the early warnings sent by the Bureau of Meteorology, says Meander Valley Mayor Wayne Johnston.

Areas in the Meander Valley received well over 200mm of rain across Wednesday and Thursday last week, with significant floods stretching across the region and into the township of Deloraine.

Mr Johnston said the region, where his farm is located, would have seen significantly more damage had the early warnings not been heeded. “We caught 150mm from Wednesday to Thursday morning, and it kept raining all day Thursday too,” Mr Johnston said.

“From Western Creek, Meander and Dairy Plains, it’s all one big catchment into the river that flows through Deloraine “Thankfully we had fair warning it was coming. We spent Wednesday running around pulling suction pipes and foot valves out of rivers and creeks.”

Mr Johnston runs 900 head of lamb as well as a dairy and said his livestock and properties could have suffered significantly had they been caught unawares.

“Once I was made aware of the rains, I moved stock away from the flats where the river tends to flood, but even on high ground I had islands of ewes and lambs in the paddocks,” Mr Johnston said. “In the end we had fences down, some roads washed away and the dairy farm had ripped some pipes from creeks, but it could have been much worse.”

Mr Johnston said those updates alongside the warning in the days leading up to and during the weather event meant people were significantly more prepared to weather the storm.

“I was in contact with Peter Stone from the Bureau of Meteorology who was giving me updates on the conditions and the levels of Meander Dam. “We were trying to save the shop and some houses in Meander so having those updates, when it peaked and what level it peaked at, down to the centimetre, was really important. “The last time we had something like this in 2016, it was all of a sudden.

At least the Bureau was able to give us four to five days’ notice this time around,” Mr Johnston said. “Because of that, I think most people were warned enough and prepared for this. “They are getting better at warning the locals ahead of time and farmers are getting better at heeding those warnings.”