It seems like it’s been raining forever here in Darwin. Mould is growing on just about everything that doesn’t move, and all our clothes are vaguely damp despite clothes dryers working overtime.
Things are even worse for the people of Katherine, where the river is in flood again. It’s currently expected to peak at around 18.48 metres (just above the deck of the high level road bridge) around midday. That’s a lot less than the record peak of 20.4 metres reached during the disastrous 1998 Katherine floods, but it’s still enough to cause quite a bit of inundation of lower lying areas in the town. Everyone has their fingers crossed because it’s still raining, but currently not fast enough to amplify the approaching flood peak.
As a result, Darwin is cut off from the rest of Australia by road, and probably will be for another week or so. Not so long ago, that would have meant a drastic shortage of fresh fruit and veg in the supermarkets. But the advent of the Darwin-Alice railway has changed all that. Most produce arrives by rail now, and the Katherine rail bridge was engineered to cope with fairly extreme flood events. Which is fortunate, because the quality of fruit and veg here (except locally grown stuff you get at the markets) is pretty ordinary at the best of times. Still, it’s a minor downside of living in a sweaty paradise.
Update – Well, the flooding in Katherie was a bit worse than expected when I posted yesterday. The water level actualy rose to about 18.9 metres at Katherine road bridge (still 1.5 metres lower than the 1998 floods). Around 1/4 of the town went under water (including parts of the main drag shopping centre) and about 700 people were evacuated to higher ground. But the water level is dropping now and it’s stopped raining (in Darwin too)! Here’s the latest Police, Fire and Emergency Services bulletin (although it’s 4pm yesterday) and here’s the local ABC radio page with some flood photos contributed by listeners.
Further update – 9am Friday 7 April – In fact the latest bulletin now says the watr is still rising slowly at Katherine road bridge and expected to peak around now at about 19.2 metres (equal to the highest ever recorded except for the 1998 floods). That will certainly mean very substantial damage to a considerable proportion of houses and businesses. Fortunately water levels have started falling substantially further upstream at Katherine Gorge, so the levels at Katherine itself should start falling within 10-12 hours. And ABC radio is reporting a Croc Shock! flood story. Apparently 3 Aboriginal teenagers were rescued late last night from up a tree near the low level crossing. One of them reported that he had been bitten on the back by a croc as he scrambled to get up the tree. He had an abrasion and three puncture wounds near his shoulder, police report. Tomorrow’s NT News front page should be one for the collectors. The story is now reported on the PFES website.