Evacuation order as floods hit Australia’s southernmost state


Some people in northwest Tasmania have been ordered to evacuate as rivers swell and could rival deadly floods six years ago.

Heavy rain across the northern half of the island began Wednesday night and is not expected to ease until early Friday morning.

Residents of the area, which stretches from Riena to Latrobe, were ordered to evacuate if safe to do so on Thursday night as the region’s Mersey River reportedly broke its embankment.

Some river peaks could reach levels seen in mid-2016, when floods claimed three lives and caused $180 million in damage.

Latrobe Council Mayor Peter Freshney said his community was worried but prepared.

“People and facilities that experienced flooding in 2016 are most likely to experience it again.

“We are as prepared as we can be.

“I’m not going to rescue people from rooftops if possible. I’m going to rescue them before the Event happens.”

On Thursday, five people and their animals were rescued from the Liffey compound, southwest of Launceston.

State Emergency Services has received 120 calls for assistance, and Acting Secretary Leon Smith has warned rivers and tributaries will continue to swell overnight.

“There’s still a long way to go in this event,” he said.

“There is still some uncertainty regarding the peak.

The Great Lakes region in the central north of the state recorded 220mm of rainfall in a 24-hour window, breaking records in several locations.

Severe weather warnings have been issued for the upper half of the state, and flood warnings of varying degrees have been issued for eight rivers.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael Ferguson urged people to exercise extreme caution and avoid unnecessary travel.

“Focusing on safety is our number one priority,” he said.

“At the moment … consistent with 2016, we are monitoring the situation very closely.”

Several shelters were set up and many roads were closed. Hundreds of people in the Northwest lost power due to the storm.

Commercial activity at the port of Devonport has been suspended until Sunday, with the closure canceling four Bass Strait crossings by the Spirit of Tasmania ferries.



Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.