Eyre Peninsula affected by record rainfall

PADDLE: Mel Cliff paddles out near where she married her husband Randall Cliff about three months ago, submerged by rain water on Saturday. Photo: Randall Cliff Photography
PADDLE: Mel Cliff paddles out near where she married her husband Randall Cliff about three months ago, submerged by rain water on Saturday. Photo: Randall Cliff Photography

Heavy rainfall and localised flooding has impacted Eyre Peninsula at the weekend with damage seen to local roads across the region as some areas saw between 200-300mm for the weekend.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued flood and severe weather warnings for many areas across the state as a upper level low pressure system developed over the west of the state, driven by a very slow moving upper system rich in tropical moisture and a deepening surface trough.

After heavy rainfall and localised flooding were seen on the West Coast to 9am Friday with Streaky Bay seeing 78mm and Wirrulla 115mm, the front made its way east with heavy falls seen across the peninsula.

Kimba was hard hit with the bureau recording 160mm up to 9am Saturday, breaking while 64mm were recorded at Cleve and 50.8mm at Cummins Airport and another record fell at Winter Springs, near Cowell, which saw 181mm.

Meanwhile large amounts were recorded at Darke Peak (152mm) and between Kimba and Cleve at Heggaton (93mm), while new January daily rainfall records were seen at Wharminda (71mm) and Yardea (70.4mm).

The bureau reports largest three-day totals were seen at Winter Springs (228mm) and Buckleboo (177mm).

Kimba District Council mayor Dean Johnson said some parts of the district saw more than 300mm of rain for the weekend, with the local road network feeling the brunt of the impact.

Roads including sections Buckleboo Road, Cleve Road and Cowell-Kimba Road saw flooding and damage, as well as sections of the Eyre Highway between Port Augusta and Kimba and onto Wudinna.

"There really is a state of shock at the moment, we've never seen anything like this before in our lifetime," he said.

"Every single one of our roads was affected with major damage across the network of roads.

"It's going to be a very long process to complete the response to the damage, it will take a few days to do a full assessment."

Mr Johnson said council was in the process of setting up a dedicated email address for people to send pictures of damage through and asked local residents to hold on to them and send them through to help with assessment of disaster relief payments.

He said the council thanked everyone who responded to the weekend's weather event who helped keep locals safe.

"A callout to our volunteeers and council team who worked tirelessly over the weekend and did a great job keeping people safe," he said.

Local residents across the district saw flooding on their own properties. Mel Cliff lives at Solomon near Kimba and said on one property they recorded 185mm on Saturday followed by another 28mm, while their neighbouring property saw 195mm for the weekend.

"In 2019 we had quite a drought year and now we had more rain in a nine hour time frame than we had in annual rainfall in 2019," she said.

DAMAGE: A section of the Eyre Highway near Kimba damaged by the weather conditions. Photo: Mel Cliff

DAMAGE: A section of the Eyre Highway near Kimba damaged by the weather conditions. Photo: Mel Cliff

Mrs Cliff said she had seen for herself the damage to most roads in and out of Kimba, including on the Eyre Highway which has seen some sections have sides of the road collapse and air bubbles form under the bitumen.

She said she felt for the council as work began to assess the damage from a "once in a lifetime" weather event.

Neighbouring Cleve District Council also reported localised flooding and damage to roads as the town saw its wettest day since 2001.

Mayor Phil Cameron said roads surrounding Darke Peak, Mangalo and Cleve with parts of the Arno Bay area were all seriously damaged and council crews were assessing the damage to assets and infrastructure in the district.

"Historically the district has not experienced such a generalised flooding event that has greatly affected our road network," he said.

"Our CEO has touched base with the state and local government authorities in Adelaide to discuss the mobilisation of the local government sector on Eyre Peninsula to deal with this weather event."

State Emergency Service volunteers have been busy across the region throughout the weekend, with Port Lincoln SES responding to assist Kimba SES as well as Cowell CFS while Tumby Bay SES volunteers responded to assist police with traffic control between Tumby Bay and Cummins due to water across the roads.

People are reminded to call 132 500 for SES assistance or in the event of a life-threatening matter to call 000.