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  • Jason Regan

SA looks to Fed help for flood recovery

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has visited the state's flood-hit regions as the state looks to the commonwealth for financial help.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall inspects flood waters over where Sturt Highway has been cut off near Glendambo, SA. (AAP Image/Pool, Kelly Barnes)

Repairs and reopening of the Stuart Highway still flooded after an outback deluge, remains "priority number one" as South Australia looks to the federal government for disaster relief funding.

Premier Steven Marshall toured some of the affected areas in the state's north on Thursday to see the extent of the damage and to thank volunteers and emergency service workers for their efforts.

He said water over the Stuart Highway had receded from about 45 centimetres to 30 centimetres and good weather in coming days should help.

"This is priority number one – being able to get that water off the road, assess the damage and get that road back and operational as quickly as possible," he said.
"It's absolutely crucial we get that stood up as quickly as possible."

Nine food and supply drops have now been conducted into Coober Pedy, north of where the highway is cut, with two more expected for Thursday.

Restoring supplies to the town meant outlying communities could similarly restock. The RAAF was also helping to evacuate some stranded tourists, the premier confirmed.

In other areas, chartered aircraft had been used to take supplies into the Indigenous APY lands where almost all roads remain impassable. While some concerns remained for pastoralists across the region, especially those running low on diesel fuel.

Mr Marshall said it was fortunate that forecast rain overnight did not eventuate and floodwaters were starting to recede. But he said the full extent of the damage to the highway was still to be determined and the time frame for repairs remained unclear.

Supplies to both the Northern Territory and Western Australia also remained under stress with train lines damaged by flooding at 18 separate spots across a 300-kilometre section of track.

"This is a mammoth exercise. There are many, many more weeks ahead of this recovery," Mr Marshall said.
"The reality is, this is a one in 200-year flood event. There's been plenty of heavy rain in this area before, but this is quite extreme.
"It's put this entire part of the state under enormous pressure."

State Emergency Service Regional Commander Trevor Arnold said the rain event in the north had been "unprecedented". He said volunteers had responded to hundreds of calls for assistance, including eight swift-water rescues and recovering other people trapped between flooded creeks.

"There was a lot of people who drove through floodwaters against all the advice. But we're not there to judge, we're there to help," he said.

Mr Arnold said another assessment of water levels over the Stuart Highway would be conducted on Thursday.

"But it's not just the fact that the water needs to recede, it's the damage that may have been done to the road before people can drive on it," he said.


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