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Hospital staff, pharmacists sent to Victorian flood areas

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Two hundred hospital staff and 20 pharmacists will be sent to Victoria’s flood-ravaged regions to fill gaps in the health system.

The $13.4 million in funding, announced on Thursday, will ensure the state’s worst-affected public health units are supported for the next three months.

The state government also announced $6.5 million for health protection measures, including free Japanese encephalitis vaccines for people in flooded regions.

A dedicated system will be set up to monitor and control disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Multicultural services will also be given $500,000 to ensure important flood advice and recovery information is translated for culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

The relief measures come as towns along the Murray River remain on high alert for severe flooding.

Residents in the northern Victorian town of Kerang have been warned it is too late to leave, after Patchell Bridge on the Murray Valley Highway was closed on Wednesday night.

The town centre is expected to be protected by its flood levee, but up to 50 properties could still be inundated, Tim Wiebusch from the State Emergency Service told reporters.

Evacuation warnings are still in place for Echuca and the smaller towns of Barmah and Lower Moira, with swollen rivers threatening to burst their banks.

In Echuca, locals have spent days building a two-kilometre makeshift flood levee through the town to protect thousands of homes and businesses.

Rochester and Murchison residents were told on Thursday it was not safe to return to the small towns because of dangerous flood levels and road closures.

The State Emergency Service has received more than 8000 requests for help since the flooding started a week ago, including almost 730 flood rescues.

Two men were also found dead in flood waters in Victoria’s north.

Eighteen volunteers from the Queensland State Emergency Services were deployed across Victoria on Thursday, providing more flood boats and swift-water rescue teams.

Up to 400 ADF personnel are also helping with various tasks, including sandbag distribution and doorknocking.

Residents are being warned the Murray River could peak on Friday, likely breaking the 1993 flood record and reaching 95 metres.

Forecast isolated thunderstorms and rain, with falls of up to 30mm, are also expected for parts of north central and northeast Victoria.

In areas where the clean-up has begun, Victoria’s Environmental Protection Authority is increasing its soil and water testing.

Samples collected from the Maribyrnong River in Melbourne’s west came back low for E.coli on Wednesday, but residents are still being advised to avoid contact with the water.

“EPA officers have already started going door to door to collect soil samples,” EPA environmental scientist Professor Mark Taylor said on Thursday.

“Individual results will be provided directly to property owners and overall results to councils to help inform their clean-up efforts.”

About 350 tonnes of hard waste has been cleared from the more than 200 Maribyrnong homes that were inundated last week.

Police have also charged a 26-year-old Sunshine West man after he allegedly looted one of the flood-ravaged homes in Maribyrnong on Monday.

He was bailed to appear at the Sunshine Magistrates Court in April next year.

-AAP



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World

Hospital staff, pharmacists sent to Victorian flood areas

Live

Two hundred hospital staff and 20 pharmacists will be sent to Victoria’s flood-ravaged regions to fill gaps in the health system.

The $13.4 million in funding, announced on Thursday, will ensure the state’s worst-affected public health units are supported for the next three months.

The state government also announced $6.5 million for health protection measures, including free Japanese encephalitis vaccines for people in flooded regions.

A dedicated system will be set up to monitor and control disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Multicultural services will also be given $500,000 to ensure important flood advice and recovery information is translated for culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

The relief measures come as towns along the Murray River remain on high alert for severe flooding.

Residents in the northern Victorian town of Kerang have been warned it is too late to leave, after Patchell Bridge on the Murray Valley Highway was closed on Wednesday night.

The town centre is expected to be protected by its flood levee, but up to 50 properties could still be inundated, Tim Wiebusch from the State Emergency Service told reporters.

Evacuation warnings are still in place for Echuca and the smaller towns of Barmah and Lower Moira, with swollen rivers threatening to burst their banks.

In Echuca, locals have spent days building a two-kilometre makeshift flood levee through the town to protect thousands of homes and businesses.

Rochester and Murchison residents were told on Thursday it was not safe to return to the small towns because of dangerous flood levels and road closures.

The State Emergency Service has received more than 8000 requests for help since the flooding started a week ago, including almost 730 flood rescues.

Two men were also found dead in flood waters in Victoria’s north.

Eighteen volunteers from the Queensland State Emergency Services were deployed across Victoria on Thursday, providing more flood boats and swift-water rescue teams.

Up to 400 ADF personnel are also helping with various tasks, including sandbag distribution and doorknocking.

Residents are being warned the Murray River could peak on Friday, likely breaking the 1993 flood record and reaching 95 metres.

Forecast isolated thunderstorms and rain, with falls of up to 30mm, are also expected for parts of north central and northeast Victoria.

In areas where the clean-up has begun, Victoria’s Environmental Protection Authority is increasing its soil and water testing.

Samples collected from the Maribyrnong River in Melbourne’s west came back low for E.coli on Wednesday, but residents are still being advised to avoid contact with the water.

“EPA officers have already started going door to door to collect soil samples,” EPA environmental scientist Professor Mark Taylor said on Thursday.

“Individual results will be provided directly to property owners and overall results to councils to help inform their clean-up efforts.”

About 350 tonnes of hard waste has been cleared from the more than 200 Maribyrnong homes that were inundated last week.

Police have also charged a 26-year-old Sunshine West man after he allegedly looted one of the flood-ravaged homes in Maribyrnong on Monday.

He was bailed to appear at the Sunshine Magistrates Court in April next year.

-AAP



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