Town’s his­tory flooded with chal­lenges

Seymour Telegraph - - THE TELEGRAPH - The 1973 White­heads Creek floods made front-page news in the Sey­mour Tele­graph cov­er­age and then again in 2013 when a mem­ber of the emer­gency ser­vices had to be res­cued them­selves.

One of the con­stants in Sey­mour’s colour­ful his­tory is its in­evitable flood­ing.

Across its 175-year his­tory the town­ship has suf­fered the ef­fects of flood­ing reg­u­larly.

But the flood of 1916-17 re­mains the most en­dur­ing mem­ory recorded in the his­tory books.

It lists the two floods as hav­ing an im­por­tant in­flu­ence on the town in re­gard to the Old Town (Emily St) be­ing evac­u­ated in favour of Sta­tion St.

The most re­cent flood was less than 12 months ago when De­cem­ber rain fell for al­most 72 hours and shut down 15 roads in Mitchell Shire.

Both Mitchell Shire and VicRoads were forced to close roads across Sey­mour and the re­gion and the SES was ‘flooded’ with calls — for fallen trees, dam­age to homes and lo­calised flood­ing.

And in its spare time the emer­gency ser­vice vol­un­teers co­or­di­nated fill­ing sand­bags with 30 tonnes of sand, which were col­lected by peo­ple as needed.

SES re­sponded to 34 calls – in­clud­ing one for some­one stuck in flood­wa­ter.

The worst hit ar­eas were around White­heads Creek, Sey­mour and parts of Avenel and Man­ga­lore, while there were also calls for as­sis­tance in Tal­la­rook, Broad­ford and Clon­bi­nane.

There was 200mm of rain recorded in the Goul­burn River catch­ment and coun­cil had 10 crews ac­tive at the height of the storm as well as spe­cial­ist drainage and tree re­moval con­trac­tors.

It wasn’t the first time Sey­mour flooded – and it def­i­nitely was not the worst.

Af­ter the great flood of 1870 the town suf­fered flood­ing at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals (in 1906, 1909, and 1912), but in 1916 there was more than 160mm of rain be­tween Thurs­day and Satur­day. Then, on Satur­day evening, an­other 50mm of rain fell.

The flood level ex­ceeded 1870 by four inches, then in June 1917 the river rose again to the lower end of Sta­tion St. The mi­gra­tion to the New Town was has­tened in June 1917 when Emily and Tal­la­rook streets again went un­der.

There were floods in 1923, 1934, and 1939, but with the con­struc­tion of the Eil­don dam the threat was re­duced.

There were floods again in 1953, 1961, 1966 and 1973 (in April). More than 170mm of rain fell in the catch­ment of White­head’s Creek in 1973 and with lit­tle wan­ing of the im­pend­ing dis­as­ter wa­ter filled homes never be­fore threat­ened by floods.

A woman drowned and prop­erty dam­age was ex­treme.

In 1974 the Goul­burn flooded and a sec­ond life was claimed, that of a young sol­dier en­gaged in res­cue work.

Among the first recorded floods for Sey­mour was 1847 which first demon­strated the one great weak­ness in Sey­mour’s orig­i­nal po­si­tion as a town­ship.


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