More than 100 people have been airlifted out of remote West Australian towns as the state’s worst flooding on record continues.
A 50km-wide inland sea is surging towards the Kimberley coast after the swollen Fitzroy River devastated the town of Fitzroy Crossing earlier in the week.
Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson on Saturday said 105 people had been relocated from the region, while more were expected to be airlifted out in the coming days.
Three-thousand kilograms of food and medicine have been transported to Fitzroy Crossing after the small town’s airport reopened on Saturday.
“We will be working with the businesses across there to see what further supplies they need, both in the days ahead and the weeks ahead,” Dawson told reporters.
Dawson and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm will visit the flood-ravaged region on Saturday afternoon to speak to locals.
“I know people are frustrated,” Dawson said.
“I am aware, though… there has been a sense of relief as planes have started to fly in and drop off food supplies and other medicines.”
The massive flood peak that reached a record 15.81m in Fitzroy Crossing late on Wednesday slammed into the tiny Indigenous community of Noonkanbah, 280km east Broome, on Friday.
Looma and Willare are also flooded, with dozens of others isolated, after seven-day rainfall totals up to 600mm were recorded across the region.
The unprecedented flooding was caused by ex-tropical cyclone Ellie, which hovered 300km south of Halls Creek on Saturday.
It’s expected to move out of WA and into the Northern Territory on Saturday afternoon, leading to heavy rainfall warnings for the Tanami and Lasseter districts.
The front will move to western parts of the Simpson Desert on Sunday morning, with 24-hour rain totals of up to 140mm likely.
A 400km section of the Great Northern Highway south of Broome has been closed, and a 500km part of the same freight route between Willare and Halls Creek remains shut.
Authorities say more Australian Defence Force support may be needed, and it could take weeks, if not months, for the only road transport link to the north of the state to reopen due to road and bridge damage.
Meanwhile, major flooding continues in the western NSW town of Menindee, where the Darling River is expected to break the 1976 record of 10.47m in the coming days.
The bureau expects the waterway to reach 10.5m, but warns it could rise to 10.7m.