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Australia Accommodation booked for flooded residents, water level markers removed after complaints from council

12:51  08 december  2022
12:51  08 december  2022 Source:   abc.net.au

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Work has started in Mannum's main street for the levee. (ABC News: James Wakelin) © Provided by ABC Business Work has started in Mannum's main street for the levee. (ABC News: James Wakelin)

The SA government will book emergency accommodation in safe locations along the River Murray as floodwaters continue to rise, while flood markers will be removed in Renmark after the council complained they were sparking fear within the local community.

After checking almost 5,000 properties in the Riverland and Murraylands, about 500 people from 260 households have said they may need emergency accommodation that is being secured by the state government at a cost of $1.2 million.

"We want to make sure there is the ability to put a roof over people's heads who simply have literally no other option whatsoever," Premier Peter Malinauskas said.

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An emergency relief centre will open in Mannum, in addition to the one in Berri.

Mannum's Randell Street will be closed to vehicle traffic today and sections of the road ripped up to protect businesses and houses from the rising River Murray.

The Mid Murray Council hopes to have the levee completed by Friday, but it is not clear how long it will stay in place for.

Parts of the road will be ripped up and the structure will be put together using dirt and sandbags.

Mannum takeaway shop owner Alicia Wegener said she felt guilty being on the side of the street that would be protected from rising water levels.

But she said she was not sure whether she would be able to keep trading.

"It's pretty much still just up in the air as to whether we can keep trading or not, but, yeah, it's just hard when you're trying to order stuff and we've got staff — we employ a fair few staff — and they rely on their incomes and that too," she said.

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The stability of flood levees throughout river towns is being checked daily by the State Emergency Service (SES) and engineers.

The River Murray breached a private levee at Crescent, near Renmark, yesterday, putting several properties at risk of flooding.

The SES issued a flood watch and act message for an area bordered by Crescent Street, Plushsbend Road and the River Murray.

But local resident Cathy Schier was not worried.

"It's an old levee bank, it's a flood plain, yeah, I'm feeling fine," she said.

'Miscommunication' concerns residents

Flood height markers placed around Renmark will be removed today after the local council complained they were sparking fear in the community.

The markers were placed in prominent areas in the town, including on the Sturt Highway, hundreds of metres from the river's edge.

Images of the markers were circulated widely on social media last night, creating concern among residents.

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The river is expected to peak in Renmark in eight days.

Renmark Paringa Council chief executive Tony Siviour said the flood markers would be removed today.

"I've spoken to the department for transport this morning and like I said, I think there's been a bit of a misunderstanding and they'll be taken down," he said.

Department chief executive Jon Whelan said they were installed as the result of miscommunication.

"Unfortunately, it was a little bit of miscommunication; we'll take that on the chin," he said.

"We made a mistake there and certainly we'll work with local council.

"Hopefully, by the time this interview is finished, all those markers will have been removed."

Hospital evacuation begins

Vulnerable residents at the Renmark Paringa District Hospital's aged care facility will begin relocating to other facilities in the local health network from today.

Four residents are being moved to Barmera and four others to Loxton today, with more to be moved tomorrow.

A levee was completed last month to reduce the chance of the hospital being flooded.

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Riverland, Murray and Coorong Local Health Network chief executive Wayne Champion said the water level in the river has reached the same level as the floor of the aged care facility.

"Residents that we're moving are mobility-impaired," he said.

"They can't self-rescue in the very unlikely scenario of something happening with the levee in the middle of the night.

"Therefore, for their safety, we're just relocating then in a very calm orderly manner to other facilities in the Riverland."

A second phase for relocation will take place in the next week or two.

Helen Frahn's husband Brian Frahn and elderly mother Thelma Purcell are both being moved from the Renmark hospital to Barmera.

"It's really good that they have got a plan like that because I've been seeing all this water and it's a heck of a lot of water and it's black and it's not very good.

Premier visits Murraylands

The Premier visited Younghusband — on the opposite side of the river to Mannum — where about 80 residents are expected to become water-locked. The site will soon need a new road cleared to maintain access.

Two weeks ago, the Premier announced a flood assistance package had been increased to $51.6 million.

Yesterday, a woman from near Barmera complained she had built her own private levee, but was ineligible for any grants to pay for it.

Mr Malinauskas said he was in regular discussion with Treasurer Stephen Mullighan about what further assistance could be provided.

"The Treasurer and I are speaking very frequently about the package and how we might be adjusting it moving forward and we'll look at all those options, but we've got to be careful about the funding of levee banks because we only want to fund levee banks that are done to a particular specification," Mr Malinauskas said.

Ferries at Swan Reach and Morgan will be closed from 7pm tonight due to rising water.

The Walker Flat ferry closed this morning to allow for further preparations for floodwaters.

The Lyrup and Mannum upstream ferries are closed, while the Waikerie ferry has restrictions on heavy vehicles.

Have you been impacted by the floods? We'd like to hear your story

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