The owner of an empty kayak found floating down a river in eastern Victoria is safe and well as the state’s flooding emergency intensifies.
Victorian SES chief officer of operations Tim Wiebusch said authorities were alerted to an empty kayak floating down the Mitchell River near Dargo on Tuesday.
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Police later confirmed the kayak’s male owner was found safe and well at Dargo about 6pm.
In central Victoria, a man risked his life by jumping into floodwaters to rescue a stranded 74-year-old woman.
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Mitch Smith spotted the woman in Bendigo Creek at Elmore and swam out to help, after her car was swept off a road and washed about 100 metres downstream in raging waters on Monday night.
“I sort of just reacted … and jumped into the water and made my way to her,” Smith said.
He secured the Eaglehawk woman to a tree with a strap and the pair waited for about an hour before emergency crews in a boat arrived.
“She was saying her arms were starting to lose strength, and she was becoming weak,” he said.
Mitch Smith spotted the woman in Bendigo Creek at Elmore and swam out to help. Credit: Seven
“I had to get something to hold her there otherwise if we both were in the water, I knew that I was going to struggle to save myself and her.”
Despite praise from police for risking his life, Smith insists he’s not a hero.
“I was pretty comfortable with my swimming abilities … if it was my grandma in the car, I hope someone would do the same thing.”
He walked away from the ordeal battered and bruised from getting swept through floodwaters but is doing OK.
Authorities told residents in flood-affected Victorian towns early on Tuesday that it was too late to leave, just a day after hundreds of people were told to evacuate.
People living, working and holidaying in Seymour, which is just over 100km north of Melbourne, Yea in the Goulburn Valley and Rochester on the Campaspe River, were told to leave on Monday as floodwaters rapidly rose to record levels.
By Tuesday morning, residents in Rochester and the low-lying parts of Yea were informed it was too late to leave.
In Yea, the worst affected areas are Miller, Loan, Court, Craigie, Marshbank streets as well as parts of Webster, Nolan and Giffard streets and Whatton Pl, Recreation Ave, Mulqueeny Ln, Clarence Way, Newberry Chase, Innisfall Rise and Buckland Crt.
Those who have not evacuated from the affected Yea areas, or from any part of Rochester, have been told it is now too late to go.
“If you have not evacuated, you should shelter in the highest location possible,” VicEmergency said in a statement.
“Be aware that you may be isolated by floodwater for a significant amount of time.“
Floodwaters in the centre of Seymour on Monday. Credit: AAPFlooding in Seymour on Monday. Credit: 7NEWS
There are major road closures in Rochester, including parts of the Midland and Northern highways.
In Seymour, the evacuation order remains in place for the low-lying areas, with flooding still expected to impact a number of streets and the local caravan parks.
They are Emily, Tierney, Lesley, Tallarook, Wallis, High, Elizabeth, Butler, Alexander, Edward, Station, Tristan, Hanna and Jubilee streets as well as Industrial Crt.
The flood levels in Seymour were close to surpassing the 1993 flood peak of 6.65m, but peaked late on Monday at 6.8m with early estimates of about 20 homes flooded.
Waters there are expected to rise again to 6.2m on Tuesday evening.
There is a relief centre at the Seymour Sports & Aquatic Centre at Chittick Park and several others in Yea, Bendigo, Echuca and Rochester, though residents have been told they can return to their homes.
An evacuation order for Yea has been downgraded, but floodwaters remain, and it is not safe to return.
The SES has received almost 1750 calls for help and carried out 52 flood rescues since Sunday.
Floodwaters in Bendigo on Monday. Credit: 7NEWS
“When you leave, remember to take your pets, mobile phone and medications,” VicEmegency said in a statement.
“If you choose to stay, emergency services may not be able to help you.”
Towns in central Victoria endured an intense 24 hours as the region faced its fourth major rain event since Christmas, the City of Greater Bendigo’s acting chief executive Brian Westley said.
“We’ve got very saturated grounds, we’ve got full water catchments and we’ve got full river systems,” he said.
“Further rains will result in some level of flooding.”
About 30 homes in Goornong, about 30km northeast of Bendigo, and six homes in Redesdale were evacuated after water inundated the properties on Monday.
Up to 35 houses face being flooded and another 250 could be cut off in Rochester as floodwaters were expected to reach 114.8m on Tuesday. Kialla, Mooroopna and nearby Shepparton were on alert for minor to moderate flooding.
Wangaratta and Echuca were also warned of the flood risk for the coming days.
People in metropolitan Melbourne were urged to avoid bike and walking paths near the Maribyrnong, Yarra and Bunyip rivers.
Rain has affected water quality as road dirt and grease, animal poo and vegetation make their way into Victoria’s waterways and increase the risk of gastro or skin rashes.
Mount Dandenong Tourist Road at Ferny Creek in Melbourne’s southeast was among hundreds of Victorian roads closed on Monday night after a landslide, which was about 40m wide and 70m long.
– With AAP