MELBOURNE, Australia – Authorities told residents of a southeastern town to flee their homes with three days of supplies just before floodwaters breached levees Wednesday in the latest community swamped during Australia's weekslong flood crisis.
Up to 1,500 homes in Kerang, in the north of Victoria state, could be affected if the Lodden River rises any further. The flooding in Victoria follow weeks of massive flooding in northeastern Queensland, which left two-thirds of the giant state underwater and 30 people dead.
The Kerang levee breached at several points and townspeople should head for a relief center on higher ground, the State Emergency Services (SES) said.
"You should ensure you have left your property immediately," the SES said in text message alerts sent about 5:20 a.m. to the town's 2,500 residents.
"We have enough resources and enough high ground for people to still operate within Kerang, but if it becomes totally inundated there will be very few people left in town," Mayor Max Fehring told Sky News.
Walls of water miles (kilometers) wide are surging across northern and western Victoria in the wake of record rainfall last week.
Floodwaters have already left 1,000 households in Victoria's northwest without power, and thousands more homes are under threat of cuts as substations and low-lying power lines are submerged.
Energy supplier Powercor built earthen barriers around the substation in Kerang, in a floodplain expected to be inundated by six feet (two meters) of water.
Across Victoria state, more than 3,500 people have evacuated their homes, with 51 towns and 1,500 properties already affected by rising waters.
The victims in the earlier flooding in Queensland were mostly killed during a flash flood that hit towns west of the state capital, Brisbane.
The government has said the Queensland floods could be the country's most expensive natural disaster ever. The price tag from the relentless floods was already at $5 billion before muddy brown waters swamped Brisbane last week.