A makeshift sandbag flood levee may not be enough to protect the northern Victorian town of Echuca from the rising Murray River, the SES warns.
Rain and isolated thunderstorms could deliver up to 30 millimetres of rain for already drenched parts of northern Victoria.
The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting the downpour will lash the state on Friday, with flood warnings still in place for much of Victoria’s north.
The low-pressure system will be followed by more rain over the weekend for central and eastern parts of the state.
“We know the threat is not over,” Emergency Services Minister Jaclyn Symes told reporters on Thursday.
“There is more rain. The message remains to stay vigilant.”
In Echuca and the smaller towns of Barmah and Lower Moira, residents are still being told to evacuate with the Murray River expected to peak from Friday.
There are concerns the river will surpass the 1993 flood level of 95 metres.
In Echuca, locals have spent days building a two-kilometre makeshift flood levee through the town to protect thousands of homes and businesses.
But the sandbag wall may not be enough to stop the predicted floodwaters, Tim Wiebusch from the State Emergency Service said.
“There is still an emergency warning to evacuate immediately,” he told reporters on Thursday.
“We can’t emphasise this enough. We don’t issue these warnings lightly.”
Kerang residents have been told it is too late to leave after a bridge connecting the town to a major 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 from Friday.
Rochester and Murchison residents are being told it’s not safe to return to the small towns because of dangerous flood levels and road closures.
Eighteen volunteers from the Queensland SES have been deployed across Victoria, while up to 400 ADF personnel are also helping with sandbag distribution and doorknocking.
The state government on Thursday announced $6.5 million for health protection measures in flooded communities, including free Japanese encephalitis vaccines.
Two hundred hospital staff and 20 pharmacists will also be sent to Victoria’s flood-ravaged regions for the next three months to help the worst-affected public heath units.
Rivers rising ahead of more rain in NSW
Flooding continues across inland NSW, as western Sydney residents are warned of rising waters in the flood-prone Hawkesbury-Nepean.
Minor flooding is expected to begin there on Friday, and residents of several suburbs including Windsor, Penrith, and North Richmond have been told to monitor the conditions.
The Hawkesbury-Nepean region has already suffered two major floods this year.
The threat is being exacerbated by more rain on Friday, with intense falls likely in areas hit by thunderstorms.
Storms are expected to move towards the coast on Friday, and are set to continue for days.
“Another low pressure system is set to form over southern NSW and that will drive further showers and storms into mid-next week,” Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Jonathan How said.
“Thunderstorms have been quite hit and miss, but some locations have seen more than 100mm (rainfall).”
The bureau has forecast damaging winds, heavy rain and hailstones with possible flash flooding.
Renewed flooding is possible on NSW inland rivers beginning on Friday, the bureau warned.
“Catchments are very wet and most dams are at or near capacity,” the bureau said.
Major flooding was already occurring at several locations on Thursday night.
Moama, on the NSW side of the Murray River opposite the Victorian town of Echuca, has been the focus of the flood threat in recent days.
The river passed major flood levels late on Wednesday night and continues to slowly rise towards the 94.77m height of a 1993 flood, the area’s second-worst on record.
The bureau expects it to reach around 95m next week, still below the 96.2m heights of its worst flood in 1870.
Hundreds of people have been ordered to evacuate Moama and surrounds this week.
Major flooding has started on the Darling River at Tilpa in northwest NSW.
In the central west, the Lachlan River is in major flood at Euabalong and Jemalong. Major flooding is also possible at Condobolin and Hillston.
Moderate flooding continues at Forbes.
At Warren, where the Macquarie River has been at major levels for weeks, renewed rises are likely.
The river stopped its slow fall on Thursday and remains above major flood levels.