Kimberley towns face record flooding as ‘incessant’ rains lash area

Published: January 5, 2023

Outback towns across WA’s Kimberley region are experiencing their worst flooding in history as heavy rains from ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie continue to lash the area.

With homes flooded, roads being turned into rivers, and residents being forced to use boats to get around, the state’s Minister for Emergency Services, Stephen Dawson, has declared an Emergency Situation … and told residents in flood-affected areas to evacuate immediately.

“This is a dangerous and fast-changing situation,” Mr Dawson told the media. “We have not seen rain like this for at least a hundred years so it’s kind of shocking to see the water as high as it is.”

Emergency services have already completed a number of flood rescues for people in Fitzroy Crossing.

Kimberley floods

The Department of Fire and Emergency WA said in a statement that floodwaters have peaked at a record-breaking 15.8m in Fitzroy Crossing and they are flowing to downstream communities. It said it has teams on the ground and in the air are working hard to assist people in need.

rain forecast

Forecast accumulated rain during the 72 hours ending on January 5. PIC: Weatherzone

“We’re providing evacuation and resupply missions where weather conditions allow, and we will continue to undertake rescues where possible in a very dynamic and changing environment,” it said. “Massive amounts of water are flowing through the region, impacting multiple communities now and over the coming days.”

The authorities said that floodwaters were over the top of the bridge in Fitzroy Crossing yesterday, causing damage to the structure. The full damage can only be assessed when the water level drops.

“Many roads across the region remain closed,” it said. “Obey any road closure signs and do not put yourselves and others at risk by driving into floodwaters. Even if water levels go down, roads may be badly damaged underneath.”

Further north, the town of Broome, has also experienced significant rainfall and coastal-gale-force winds that are expected to continue until tomorrow

Broome floods

Many Kimberley roads have been inundated, including some around Broome. PIC: Shire of Broome

The Shire of Broome said the rain has resulted in localised flooding and, while there have been no reports of properties being inundated within the Shire so far, there is a high risk of urban flooding around Broome, Lombadina Community, Bidyadanga Community, Cape Leveque, and Roebuck Plains.

The rain is being driven by Ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie, which made landfall two weeks ago and sparked ‘incessant rain’.

And Weatherzone warns the heavy rain will continue throughout the week, with Ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie predicted to linger over the north of WA for the next few days.

“There is even a chance that it could briefly drift back over open water to the north of WA, which could allow it to intensify into a tropical cyclone,” it said.

  • Are you in the Kimberley at the moment? How are you coping? Comment below.

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