‘Difficult time’: PM vows more flood relief

Flooding in Victoria. Picture Facebook.jpg
Flooding continues to Victoria where more than 1700 calls for help have been made since Sunday. Picture: Facebook

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has pledged financial support for flood ravaged communities across Victoria in an effort to make sure victims aren’t “left behind”.

Mr Albanese touched down in Melbourne on Wednesday afternoon after two days visiting other disaster regions on the Gold Coast and Far North Queensland.

He visited the State Control Centre, further committing resources for regional towns affected by the deluge in Victhe west and north of the state.

Joined by Acting Premier Ben Carroll, the PM thanked those who had helped co-ordinate recovery efforts and pledged the federal government’s commitment to the regions.

“Today we’ve signed off on a commitment to provide further support to Victorians as a result of this flood event that continues to unfold,” Mr Albanese said.

The Prime Minister thanked workers at the Victorian State Control Centre for their efforts during the floods. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling
The Prime Minister, alongside Acting Premier, Ben Carroll (right) were briefed on the situation at the Victorian State Control Centre. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling

“Support in terms of the emergency and hardship payments being made to individuals and families, to assist communities in their time of need.”

He said communities, such as Rochester in the state’s north, had remained resilient throughout the “worst of times”, reflecting back to floods that swept through the town in late 2022.

“This is a really difficult time. It will be traumatic for people in places like Rochester, who just a couple of years ago went through another severe weather event,” he said.

Mr Carroll thanked the Prime Minister for the support, which he said would go a long way in helping local governments, families and children affected by floodwaters.

He said it was “unprecedented” two have such significant weather events affect so many people across the state in the space of a couple of years.

“We do know that it is unprecedented to have these weather events so close together here in Victoria and we’re doing everything we can to support those families,” he said.

Queensland disaster visit

The Prime Minister began Wednesday morning in Cairns, alongside Queensland Premier Steven Miles, where the pair announced $24.5m in funding to bolster the region, which was hit by ex-tropical cyclone Jasper in the days before Christmas.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Premier Steven Miles have visited the Gold Coast and Cairns to announce flood recovery packages. Picture: NCA NewsWIRE / John Gass

The announcement will overwhelmingly support local tourism, with the $24.25m program including grants for Far North tourism operators impacted by the weather.

The grants will help those impacted re-establish their business and keep staff on.

The package will also fund a tourism and events marketing campaign to attract more visitors back to the region, and comes after the Miles government announced cheap flights would be made available to interstate tourists.

A $20m clean-up program announced by Mr Albanese and Mr Miles a day earlier while on the Gold Coast – which was hit by severe storms between Christmas and the first days of 2024 – will also assist Cairns’ recovery.

“This beautiful place has been ravaged by this disaster, and we want to help Far North Queensland get back on its feet as soon as possible,” Mr Albanese said

“Tourism in particular is one of the lifeblood industries of Far North Queensland, and we want to make sure businesses hit hard cannot only survive but thrive again.

Victoria’s flood emergency

Several flood warnings were still in place in Victoria, when the PM arrived after days of torrential rain left many fearing the worst.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the rain in the first 10 days of 2024 had made it the wettest start of the year in Victoria since records started more than 120 years ago.

“If we had no further rainfall for the rest of January, this month would still be within the top 20 wettest Januaries that we have on record,” meteorologist Bri Macpherson said.

“So [it’s] quite a significant event.”

Flood warnings in Victoria. Picture Vic Emergency.JPG
There are nine Flood warnings in Victoria. Picture: Vic Emergency

More than 1750 calls for help have been made to Victoria’s SES since Sunday as floodwaters inundated towns in regional and metropolitan parts of the state.

A man who saved a 74-year-old woman from floodwaters has detailed the incredible rescue effort after her car was swept more than 100m down a flooded road before sinking.

“I knew something had to be done,” Mitchell Smith told 9News on Tuesday.

“If it was my grandma in the car, I hope someone would do the same thing.”

He swam out into 2.7m deep floodwaters, where the woman was clinging to a tree and used a ratchet strap to secure her.

He then stayed with her in the water until emergency services arrived.

Mitch Smith saves 74-year-old woman from floodwaters. Picture Nine
Mitchell Smith secured the 74-year-old woman to a tree to keep her from being swept away in floods. Picture: Nine
Mitch Smith saves 74-year-old woman from floodwaters. Picture Nine
He stayed with her until emergency services arrived. Picture: Nine
Mitch Smith saves 74-year-old woman from floodwaters. Picture Nine
Her car sinking beside them. Picture: Nine

A 70m long landslide occurred near Mount Dandenong Tourist Road in Ferny Creek, in Melbourne’s south.

Locals have been urged to be stay safe around area by avoiding damaged buildings, fallen trees and powerlines, blocked or damaged roads.

Residents of low-lying parts of Seymour were told to “evacuate immediately” at 9pm on Monday as flooding threatened to exceed the major peak of 1993 at 6.65m.

A “move to higher ground” warning remains in place in the region as Lake Eildon is releasing about 3000 megalitres of water a day.

The Goulburn River was expected to peak near 5.90 metres on Tuesday evening, with flooding above floor level of a single-story home still possible in some locations.