SA declares major emergency regarding state’s extreme weather

The emergency declaration will remain in place for 14 days.  

South Australia has declared a major emergency regarding the extreme weather documented in the state.

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens and Chief Executive of SES Chris Beattie fronted the South Australian public today at the daily COVID press conference to provide the state on the extreme weather unfolding in SA.

The severe weather event occurred in the Eyre Peninsula and the Far North of the state, and as a result of the damage, a declaration under the Emergency Act was necessary.

The recent storms in affected areas have seen part of the Olympic Dam highway erode, houses damaged and roads submerged by floodwaters in recent days.

This is the only time that two emergency declarations have occurred at the same time in SA. Stevens said the declaration was made to better coordinate the approach to resolve the significant damage to SA’s road and train network and provide help, aid and food to isolated communities. Further, there is a significant issue with all major arterial routes to WA and the NT being disrupted.

The emergency declaration will remain in place for 14 days, with Beattie stating it could be continued further depending on the damage.

SES crews have been out since Wednesday night, which saw 50mm of rainfall in five hours in central EP, with large flooding around Cummins. The weather is pushing in from a tropical low from the North West of Australia.

While there is a lull in the wild weather, further thunderstorms is expected to hit SA across the weekend, with severe rainfall to lash the North West Pastorals, North Easy Pastorals Eyre Peninsula and Flinders Ranges from Monday to Wednesday.

A generalized flood watch remains for the Cooper Creek basin.

The rail network has been disrupted east of Tarcoola, with 14 wash aways documented. The SES have not completed their assessment on the damage due to the access issues. The breakaway of the rail system has caused disruptions in the freight system from the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

It is estimated it will take 18 days to repair the damage, but Beattie noted that it may take longer as a result of the predicted weather events.

A major concern remains for the Stuart Highway, where significant damage to the road saw all traffic closed to Coober Peedy. Planning is currently going on regarding food supply to the isolated community, particularly if the road network does not open.

The Northern Territory rely upon SA and the railway system to get most of their fresh food and chilled supplies, with reports of bare shelves. The WA supermarkets are reporting shortages in dry and processed food.

Moving forward, strategic coordination is occurring at a national level, activated by the Department of Home Affairs earlier in the week. On a state level, the SES and Regional Coordination centres and more have stepped up to work with local councils, communities and industries to aid in the disruption.

The declaration grants the State Coordination and Police Commissioner further powers to dictate food security, heavy vehicle movement and related issues affecting the hard-hit regional communities.

More to come.

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