Understanding flood information and warnings

Published on 07 September 2020

Rochester Floods 2011

Campaspe Shire Council’s Resilient Rochester Project, supported by local and regional SES and North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA), has equipped the local community with tools to better understand and prepare for flood events.

General Manager Community, Mr Keith Oberin, said knowing your risk is a vital part of making and using a flood plan.

“You can readily feel stressed about flood risk if you don’t understand warnings coming from the Bureau of Meteorology,” Mr Oberin said.

In the event of a flood, it is important to stay informed, monitor weather warnings, forecasts and river levels, and enact emergency plans early. Don’t wait until it’s too late to leave.

As part of the project, Rochester residents have received an information pack containing local flood information. The pack explains:

  • how high flood waters need to be to reach individual properties around Rochester
  • where to find flood information
  • and how to prepare a flood plan.

    “If you have not yet familiarised yourself with the contents within the pack, please do. It will help you understand your risk and make a plan,” Mr Oberin said.

    Rochester SES Unit Controller, Judith Gledhill said there are four different flood alerts issued by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM).

  • A Flood Watch – there is a developing weather pattern that might cause floods in 1-2 days.
  • A Flood Warning (minor, moderate or major) – a flood is about to happen or is already happening. When the Bureau issues flood warnings, a reading and prediction of the flood height at the Rochester Town Gauge is included.

    “The Bureau provides information to help residents in making good decisions about what the risk of flooding means and when residents should enact their emergency plan,” Ms Gledhill said.

    “A summary of what the three warnings mean for Rochester residents forms part of the information pack and is also linked to the Rochester Town Gauge.”

  • A minor flood warning in Rochester is unlikely to result in over floor flooding of homes or businesses.
  • A moderate flood warning may result in shallow flood water spreading into the township areas with minimal over floor flooding.
  • A major flood warning is likely to threaten more homes and businesses, disrupt roads and cause more widespread flooding. For Rochester the impacts vary greatly depending on the predicted flood height.

“It’s important to note that a major flood warning with a predicted flood height of 114.5m at the Rochester Town Gauge will be very different to a major flood warning with a predicted flood height of 115.4m at the Rochester Town Gauge,” Ms Gledhill said.

Flood marker posts will soon be installed around the town to highlight the varying depths of water at different gauge heights.

Once a flood warning and predicted flood height is provided by the Bureau of Meteorology, the Victorian State Emergency Service (VicSES) will use local knowledge and flood intelligence to issue additional local warnings about possible on-ground impacts for Rochester.

“VicSES is the control agency for flood in Victoria and will provide local flood warning and emergency information through the VicEmergency app, social media channels and emergency broadcasters such as ABC Radio,” Ms Gledhill said.

“Emergency warnings will be issued when an emergency is likely to impact residents. The warnings will provide the community with information on what is happening and advice on what immediate steps should be taken to protect you, your family and your property.”

“People who plan and prepare for emergencies reduce the impact and recover faster.”

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