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Why some folks keep, and others evacuate, as waters rose in Rochester


“I feel we have to change our mindset about that. You do not wish to die being rescued by some previous farmer. You don’t need folks to die attempting to rescue you since you’re not going to go away.”

Colin Harvey predicts Rochester could have a change. “I feel subsequent time you will not discover anybody on the road.”

The distinction between this flood and the final nice flood of Rochester was the width of 4 bricks. The obvious place to see that is on the facet of Bruce and Eileen Kilpatrick’s home close to a bend within the Campaspe River, which violently burst its banks every week in the past.

Bruce and Eileen Kilpatrick in their flood-affected home on Cromwell Street.

Bruce and Eileen Kilpatrick of their flood-affected house on Cromwell Road.Credit score:Eddie Jim

The home was as soon as owned by Murray Goulburn Dairy when it was the most important proprietor on the town. When the 2011 flood handed, flooding simply earlier than the home’s flooring stage, the plant supervisor screwed a board onto the wall to report a tall watermark.

The stain from the brand new tall watermark is 4 bricks taller. That does not sound like a lot, however in Rochester’s floodplains, which means water overflows Bruce and Eileen’s residence and inundates an estimated 9 out of 10 houses on the town.

The 2011 floodwaters sign on the side of Kilpatrick's house.

The 2011 floodwaters signal on the facet of Kilpatrick’s home.Credit score:Eddie Jim

For Kilpatricks and a variety of Rochester residents, 2011 was the barometer of a foul flood. Two nights earlier than final week’s flooding, they gathered at a city assembly at Rochester Shire Corridor and have been instructed that the more than likely state of affairs was for the river to peak beneath 2011 ranges.

The following day, at 16:15 p.m., the native SES driver, Tim Williams, despatched an pressing message to all residents, warning the flooding could be worse than beforehand introduced and as much as 450 homes may very well be flooded.

“Please evacuate now,” the discover learn.

Bruce Kilpatrick says he is nonetheless basing his unique recommendation on. “We ready for a similar stage as in 2011,” he stated. When water started to pour on the ground, they hurriedly packed their luggage and rushed out the door.

The power of water passing could be seen in a pool of water dented in opposition to a tree on the backside of a flattened wheat crop behind the Kilpatrick home.

The wheat crop is devastated behind the Kilpatricks house.

The wheat crop is devastated behind the Kilpatricks home.Credit score:Eddie Jim

Colin Harvey says you may hear it within the shotgun blast of the Colorbond fence unscrewing alongside Fuller Avenue. Bernie Williamson factors to the place the water strikes a loaded delivery container in his entrance yard.

Bernie and Rose Williamson retired to Rochester two years in the past. They now reside in a caravan, with their Nineteenth-century farmhouse uninhabitable. The water overflowed proper underneath their entrance window and broken all the things it touched. Bernie Williamson stated that when they heard the flooding was going to be dangerous, they did not wish to keep.

“You hear about folks getting caught and driving by means of floods,” he stated. “If we keep, we can’t exit. If we had tried to get out, we’d have been on the entrance web page of Age. Miraculously, just one particular person died within the flood in Rochester.

Bernie and Rose Williamson now live in their caravan.

Bernie and Rose Williamson now reside of their caravan.Credit score:Eddie Jim

In 2011, 250 homes have been flooded. Former mayor Leigh Wilson stated that this time round 1,000 houses have been constructed, together with hospitals, all three faculties, nursing houses and most outlets. His spouse’s store was additionally flooded, though he spent hours rescuing it with sandbags and a pump.


“You see the flood waters rising,” he stated. “You assume we now have just a little little bit of time, we are able to do that, we are able to try this. You then get enthusiastic about what is going on on and the adrenaline goes up and also you assume you are able to do just a little bit extra, you may combat it. Then there comes a second whenever you understand there’s nothing I can carry that may stand in opposition to this.”

That is what Tim Williams and Judith Gledhill have been attempting to inform anybody who would pay attention. They run Rochester SES and just like the city, have been overwhelmed that Friday evening. Gledhill described it as an ideal storm. “You possibly can’t seize them with quick and twisty items and pull them out,” she says. “It needs to be a private determination.”

The flight or flood dilemma has divided neighbors and even households in Rochester.

Wes and Hazel Brierley thought their house could be tremendous after they escaped the 2011 flood with out water coming into the home. As an alternative, it took simply an hour on Friday morning for the Brierleys to understand they wanted to get out. By 5 a.m., water had crammed the gutters of their road. By 6 a.m., it had run by means of the road. Wes Brierley stated: “She got here fairly shortly. “It was far more aggressive than the final one. Our again fence is mendacity on the bottom. “

Hazel and West Brierley look through family photos destroyed in Rochester's record flooding.

Hazel and West Brierley look by means of household pictures destroyed in Rochester’s report flooding.Credit score:Eddie Jim

On the opposite facet of the road, Stephen, who requested to not publish his final identify, made positive his 83-year-old mom was protected in Bendigo earlier than the floods arrived. Now she is at his place in Canberra. He instructed her in regards to the flooding however did not ship her any photos of the injury. “I assumed it might simply break her,” he stated.


Linda McNamara lives on Fuller Avenue. When the evacuation warning was issued, she drove north to Echuca and spent the evening at a reduction middle. “The meals is scrumptious and so they have all of the assist you want,” she stated.

Her son Jack stayed to take care of the home. He left in the dead of night, carrying his canine throughout the water, led by Colin Harvey’s boat. “If I had recognized it might have been so dangerous I’d have walked away.”

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