Lakes Entrance braces for king tide

A second king tide will hit Lakes Entrance on Thursday as emergency workers, including members of the Australian Defence Force, continue sandbagging the town in Victoria’s flooded Gippsland region.

Floodwaters continue to flow down from the high country meeting up with the sea at Lakes Entrance threatening up to 400 homes and businesses sitting in its path.

The work of the soldiers, residents and emergency crews from the State Emergency Service (SES) and Country Fire Authority (CFA) in sandbagging key infrastructure and homes is expected to save many from the worst of the state’s continuing flood threat.

The high tide on Wednesday arrived about 11.30pm (AEDT) but by midnight had not reached its expected peak of 1.4 metres.

“It’s rising slowly but at this stage everyone is holding steady,” said an SES spokesman.

The flood threat comes in the wake of a torrential downpour that hammered alpine regions with a months’ worth of rain in a day.

Rising floodwaters in the Morwell River began rushing into three coal conveyor tunnels at the Yallourn open-cut coal mine on Wednesday, forcing workers to abandon the site and shut down most of the electrical generation at the adjoining power station.

The state government and power operators have stressed, however, that there was no risk to the power supply and prices would not rise as a result of the reduced capacity of the plant.

“Victoria’s energy supplies are secure,” said Energy Minister Michael O’Brien.

Crews will be closely monitoring Bairnsdale, which has been forced to close a lane of traffic on the Princes Highway bridge.

Other small communities scattered along the Gippsland Lakes are also in the path of the floodwaters with the township of Paynesville expected to be hit by flooding on Thursday.

About 175 properties are already isolated there – though officials expect the small lakeside community to be spared the worst from flood levels not seen in five years.

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