Towns on alert as major flood warning issued

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Residents of several Victorian towns are being told to brace for flooding as rain forecast for Saturday afternoon threatens to burst the banks of already swollen rivers in the state’s southeast.

A major flood warning has been issued for the Thomson River between Sale and Heyfield after rainfall during the week saw river levels rise and cause minor flooding in some areas.

Parts of Mallacoota were flooded this week and the town was cut off due to a landslide. Credit: Shanna Mcmahon

Up to 50mm of rain has been forecast across the river catchment for Saturday and Sunday, with emergency services warning that could lead to prolonged flooding into next week.

Bairnsdale residents are on alert for more rain with thunderstorms predicted for Saturday evening and Sunday. A flood warning has been issued for the Mitchell River, which runs through the town and experienced minor flooding during the week.

The Bureau of Meteorology also updated the flood warning alert for the Snowy and Buchan rivers to moderate about 1pm on Saturday.

Access to Mallacoota resumed on Friday afternoon after a landslide blocked access to the town on Thursday morning. Some roads remained closed in the town on Saturday due to flooding.

There were 91 calls for assistance across the state in the 24 hours to 2pm on Saturday, a State Emergency Service spokesman said.

Police and SES crews were called to three flood rescues in Gippsland, including a water rescue at Alberton West in the state’s southeast. The busiest SES crews were Brimbank, in Melbourne’s north-western suburbs, and Maffra, in East Gippsland near the swollen waterways.

“If you are confronted with floodwaters, do not attempt to drive through those floodwaters. It may be the last decision you make,” SES duty officer Shane McBride said.

The SES has received more than 900 requests for help since the beginning of the storm and rain event on Wednesday with about 700 relating to fallen trees.

Parts of eastern Victoria near the NSW border could record rainfalls of 75mm over the weekend with already saturated areas inundated by 200mm to 300mm of rain since Wednesday.

Parts of NSW’s southeast copped more than 200mm of rain in the past few days and severe thunderstorms were predicted to continue for much of the country’s east coast. The bureau warned damaging winds, large hailstones and heavy rainfall may lead to flash flooding south of Sydney on Saturday afternoon.

With Lachlan Abbott and AAP

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