Rain brings joy and landslides

Rain brings joy and landslides

Widespread rain since Sunday has been welcomed across East Gippsland, completing the trio of the Aussie drought-fire-flood cycle.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, in the 24 hours to 9am yesterday, the highest fall recorded was Stratford at 109 millimetres.

Bairnsdale recorded 75mm, Bullumwaal 79mm, Mallacoota 28mm and Omeo 18mm.

Aside from replenishing soils and dams, the water has caused damage to bushfire-affected land, including a flash flood at Clifton Creek, as well as causing debris to block roads, such as the Great Alpine Road near Tambo Crossing, which was reopened before 2pm yesterday.

For Doug Pemberton, his Nicholson property recorded 83mm and his fire-affected Sarsfield property 81mm.

A downpour in 18mm washed away his driveway at Nicholson, the first time he remembers that happening in almost 40 years.

“We noticed that where the soil was burnt at Sarsfield that just the bare skin of the soil was wet, perhaps one millimetre, it’s so water repellent,” Doug said.

“Further in the paddocks where it wasn’t burnt the moisture had infiltrated much further.”

He said one new fence, replaced post-fire, had debris up against it and some of the dams had received runoff as well as debris.

“It was very welcome,” he said.

“We’ve had none for such a long time. We’re just pushing on as usual now.” Local rain gauges have been emptied several times with Kate Treasure recording an incredible 180mm at ‘Homelands’, Stratford.

In total, the property has had 200mm (eight inches) over two weeks and Kate is looking forward to the grass ‘growing like crazy’ after feeding stock for many months.

She said the dams were overflowing bar one and welcomed the change to her daily trough-checking routine.

At Gelantipy, Bill and Annemarie Henderson received 51 millimetres over a couple of days.

“We were pleasantly surprised,” Annemarie said.

She said at Murrindal on Monday there were still puffs of smoke in the bush.

“The fire has definitely calmed down a bit, but not to be a pessimist, there is still a lot of summer to go,” Annemarie said.

“We look forward to follow-up rain.”

At Wulgulmerang, Jess Moon measured 31mm to lunchtime on Monday, while lower down at Buchan South, Codie Sutton said they had received 42mm and a ‘green tinge’ was starting to be seen in paddocks.

At Glenaladale, Christa Treasure received 116.5mm to Tuesday, at Castleburn, near Dargo, she had received 83.5mm on Monday afternoon.

Further north at Dargo, Cathie Riley reported 149mm across the past five days.

Neil Barraclough, of Meerlieu, recorded 75.2mm, with 61.2mm falling in 24 hours. At Bruthen, Sue Svetlik said one of their gauges was overflowing while the other recorded about 70mm.

“An absolute miracle,” Sue said.

Incident Controller at Swifts Creek, Ben Rankin, said the rainfall had helped in terms of reducing remaining fire edge.

He said while fire remained a risk across the district, the rain had allowed authorities to plan and strategise for upcoming spike periods.

“We’re assessing the fire line as we speak both on the ground and with aircraft taking infrared images.

Once we get that data and information we will be able to formulate plans and how to minimise damage while protecting those communities still at risk,” Mr Rankin said.

IMAGE: East Gippsland and the High Country welcomed a deluge of rain from late Sunday through to yesterday morning, minor floods and landslides, such as this which closed the Great Alpine Road for 24 hours, adding to an already extreme summer which has included droughts and the ongoing bushfires. (PS)