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Fitzroy Crossing and Derby isolated as Kimberley flood emergency deepens

(ABC) -- The Kimberley’s flood emergency has been labelled the state’s “worst ever” as more towns and communities become isolated in the deluge from ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie.
The water is starting to recede in Fitzroy Crossing, where the river peaked at 15.81 metres on Wednesday afternoon, eclipsing the 2002 record of 13.95m.

Residents in Fitzroy Crossing were forced to evacuate to the town’s recreation centre due to record flooding. Photo ABC

Now the floodwater is surging down the Fitzroy River towards Indigenous communities such as Noonkanbah, where residents are being airlifted to safety.
Torrential rain and damaging winds are lashing Broome and the surrounding area and authorities expect the tourist town to soon become cut off, removing all road access to the West Kimberley.
Authorities said this afternoon that receding floodwater at Fitzroy Crossing airport would now allow large military planes to assist local helicopters with the massive rescue and food-supply effort.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services commissioner Darren Klemm said the situation in the Fitzroy Valley was unprecedented.
“I want to reassure people in the Kimberley that a range of agencies are working furiously to ensure food and medical care is getting to those people who need it most,” he said.
“We understand how distressed people across the Kimberley are, but we ask for their understanding as we respond to the worst flooding event our state has ever seen.”
Fitzroy Crossing residents have quickly filled an emergency evacuation site at the local recreation centre, and another will be opened at the local school.
Milton Lintern is stranded with family in Fitzroy Crossing and has been frantically searching for essential supplies.
“We’ve run out of milk. We’ve got three babies in the house. All three are under three years old,” he said.
“It’s very crucial … you’ve got sick people in the community. My aunty who lives next door, she’s had a stroke, and they’re running low on food.”
His uncle Tom Lawford said if his family could not access enough food in the coming days, they would need to be evacuated.
“We don’t know what’s happening with the food. We just need basic stuff, milk, tea and sugar,” he said.
“If there’s no food here we all need to be flown out. Either to Derby or to Broome.”
Despite the heavy rain, Broome Airport remains operational, but regular passenger services have been cancelled.
Keith Andrews fled to the town after floodwater swept into his house.
He said he is now volunteering and helping carry out tasks such as delivering supplies.
“I pretty much lost it all. I just came with my bag and clothes,” he said.
“This is a time when the community which comes together and shows we all can live in harmony.”

(Latest Update January 6, 2023)

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