The South African government will reserve emergency accommodation in safe locations along the Murray River as flood waters continue to rise, while flood markers will be removed in Renmark after council complained that ‘they were instilling fear in the local community.
- Work on a dike has started in Mannum
- Emergency accommodation is being secured for up to 500 people
- Flood height markers were installed, then removed, in Renmark after complaints that they were causing fear in the community
After checking nearly 5,000 properties in the Riverland and Murraylands, around 500 people from 260 households said they may need emergency accommodation which is secured by the state government at a cost of $1.2 million.
“We want to make sure it’s possible to put a roof over the heads of people who literally have no other option,” Premier Peter Malinauskas said.
An emergency relief center will open in Mannum, in addition to the one in Berri.
Randell Street in Mannum will be closed to vehicular traffic today and sections of the road will be destroyed to protect businesses and homes from the rising Murray River.
Mid Murray Council hopes the seawall will be completed by Friday, but it is unclear how long it will remain in place.
Parts of the road will be ripped out and the structure will be put together using earth and sandbags.
Alicia Wegener, owner of take-out store Mannum, said she felt guilty being on the side of the street that would be protected from rising waters.
But she said she wasn’t sure she could continue to negotiate.
“It’s pretty much still up in the air as to whether we can continue to negotiate or not, but, yeah, it’s just difficult when you’re trying to order things and we have staff – we employ quite a few staff – and they rely on their income and that too,” she said.
The stability of flood dykes in river towns is checked daily by the State Emergency Service (SES) and engineers.
The River Murray breached a private dyke in Crescent, near Renmark yesterday, putting several properties at risk of flooding.
The SES has issued a flood alert and action message for an area bordered by Crescent Street, Plushsbend Road and the Murray River.
But local resident Cathy Schier wasn’t worried.
“It’s an old dike, it’s a floodplain, yeah, I feel good,” she said.
Poor communication worries residents
Flood height markers placed around Renmark will be removed today after local council complained they were causing fear in the community.
The markers were placed in prominent areas of the city, including on the Sturt Freeway, hundreds of yards from the riverfront.
Images of the markers were shared widely on social media last night, sparking concern among locals.
The river is expected to peak at Renmark in eight days.
Renmark Paringa Council chief executive Tony Siviour said the flood markers would be removed today.
“I spoke to the Department of Transportation this morning and as I said I think there was a little misunderstanding and they will be removed,” he said.
Department chief executive Jon Whelan said they were set up as a result of miscommunication.
“Unfortunately it was a little misunderstanding; we’ll take it on the chin,” he said.
“We made a mistake there and we will definitely work with the local council.
“Hopefully by the time this interview is over, all of those markers will have been removed.”
The evacuation of the hospital begins
Vulnerable residents of Renmark Paringa District Hospital Aged Care Facility will start moving to other facilities in the local health network from today.
Four residents are moved to Barmera and four more to Loxton today, with more to be moved tomorrow.
A dike was completed last month to reduce the hospital’s risk of flooding.
Riverland, Murray and Coorong Local Health Network chief executive Wayne Champion said the water level in the river had reached the same level as the floor of the aged care facility.
“The residents we move have limited mobility,” he said.
“They can’t save themselves in the very unlikely scenario where something happens with the dyke in the middle of the night.
“Therefore, for their safety, we are just moving in a very calm and orderly fashion to other facilities in the Riverland.”
A second phase of relocation will take place in the next week or two.
Helen Frahn’s husband Brian Frahn and elderly mother Thelma Purcell are both being transferred from Renmark Hospital in Barmera.
“It’s really good that they have a plan like that because I’ve seen all this water and it’s a lot of water and it’s black and it’s not very good.
Prime Minister visits Murraylands
The Prime Minister visited Younghusband – across the river in Mannum – where around 80 residents are expected to become stranded in water. The site will soon need a new clear road to maintain access.
Two weeks ago the Prime Minister announced that a flood relief package had been increased to $51.6 million.
A woman from near Barmera yesterday complained that she had built her own private sea wall but was not eligible for any grant to pay for it.
Mr Malinauskas said he spoke regularly with Treasurer Stephen Mullighan about what additional help could be provided.
“The Treasurer and I talk very frequently about the package and how we might adjust it in the future and we will look at all those options, but we have to be careful about funding the levees banks because we only want to fund the levees. of funds that are made to a particular specification,” Mr. Malinauskas said.
Ferries to Swan Reach and Morgan will be closed from 7pm tonight due to rising waters.
The Walker Flat ferry closed this morning to allow further preparations for flood waters.
The upstream Lyrup and Mannum ferries are closed, while the Waikerie ferry has restrictions on heavy vehicles.
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