Big wet cuts off the Kimberley

Rebecca Turner, Nathan Dyer and Alicia BridgesCountryman

Pastoralists in the Kimberley have been cut off by floodwaters and supermarket shelves in Kununurra were empty this week, with trucks unable to get through to restock supplies.

Those on Bulka station, 140km from Fitzroy Crossing, cannot get to the town and surrounding stations have also been affected by flood waters.

Joy Motter, of Bulka station, said that while the flood waters were not affecting the homestead it meant the main road between the Fitzroy River Lodge and Gogo station was closed and they could not get into town.

“We are prepared for these kinds of things though as it’s part of the wet season, we have enough food and access to telephones and email so are not isolated, ” Mrs Motter said.

She said so far the wet season had been better than recent years which was a good sign for the coming season.

Great Northern Highway was also cut by flood waters between Halls Creek and Kununurra, and Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing.

It is expected to remain closed for days with sections of the road completely washed away.

Postal services to Kununurra have been disrupted, with parcels unable to arrive by road. Other mail is being flown in.

At Fitzroy Crossing, locals have resorted to boats to travel in the town’s flooded streets, as the Fitzroy River continues to rise.

Manager of the town’s pub, the Crossing Inn, Shayne Stewart, said he and staff were accessing the supermarket by boat. “There are six of us here, ” Mr Stewart said. “We’ve shut down the power and we’ve got no running water. But we can get into town to have a shower and get food by boat … we can park directly outside the supermarket.”

Communities throughout the Fitzroy Valley are receiving food drops and stranded travellers are camping at the town’s football oval.

The towns of Kununurra, Wyndham, Warmun and Halls Creek all received more than their annual March rainfall average in the first 13 days of the month.

On Monday, authorities were co-ordinating the evacuation of up to 300 people from the remote Kimberley community of Warmun after the township, 200km south-west of Kununurra, was hit by flash flooding.

Warmun Community Inc chief executive Chris Clare said many of the community’s 300 residents had lost everything and up to 70 per cent of homes had been rendered uninhabitable after nearby Turkey Creek flooded the town on Sunday.

“This is a disaster, parts of the community are completely destroyed, ” Mr Clare said.

“I would say two-thirds of the homes have been inundated by six feet or more of water.”

Warmun received 320mm of rain in the first two weeks of March, compared to the monthly average of just 116.7mm.

Deputy Premier Kim Hames flew to the east Kimberley on Tuesday afternoon to inspect the damage.

Premier Colin Barnett said Dr Hames would give feedback to the Government and ensure assistance was provided to those affected by the flooding.

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