By Rachael Dexter and Ben Grubb
The areas around Shepparton, Rochester and Maribyrnong have been the focus of much of the devastation caused by widespread flooding in Victoria over the past few days.
Echuca, Murchison, Carisbrook, Kerang, Horsham, Newbridge and other towns have also been impacted or are expected to be.
Using Nearmap’s aerial camera system attached to planes, as well as satellite imagery, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald can provide a bird’s-eye view of the spread of the inundation by comparing the regions before and after the floods. The satellite imagery comes via Sentinel-2 – a constellation of two polar-orbiting satellites placed in the same sun-synchronous orbit by Europe’s Earth Observation Programme in 2015.
The images show how the weather event caused the Goulburn, Murray, Maribyrnong, Campaspe and Avoca rivers to burst their banks. In Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay, murky floodwater can be seen draining into the ocean from the Yarra River.
Aerial images aren’t available for all regions, either because of cloud cover obstructing the view or because satellites or planes have not yet passed over those regions. The brightness and contrast of some of the satellite images have been increased to improve visibility.
With flood warnings still in place for parts of the state, the situations captured in these images are likely to change again in the near future.
Echuca sits at the meeting point of the Murray and Campaspe rivers and contends with flooding threats on two fronts.
Floodwater from the smaller Campaspe River, seen running top to bottom in the satellite images above, peaked in Echuca at 96.25 metres Australian Height Datum, or above sea level, on Sunday and is receding. By Tuesday morning, it was at 95.56 metres and falling.
But satellite imagery from Monday shows the enormous swelling of the Murray, which snakes left to right across the image and is now the biggest cause for concern in the town. The mayor on Tuesday morning told residents they had 24 hours to save the town’s CBD.
The Murray River at Echuca Wharf was at 94.29 metres on Tuesday and is expected to exceed major flood levels on Wednesday.
The river could then peak at 95 metres AHD by Friday. The Bureau of Meteorology notes the river could reach levels higher than the 1993 flood, which measured 94.77 metres AHD.
Shepparton and surrounds
In Shepparton, the impact of the flooding of the Goulburn River on the township is evident from satellite imagery taken on Monday. Brown river water can be seen in streets located three kilometres from the river.
As many as 7300 properties in Mooroopna, Shepparton and Kialla West could be impacted, according to the SES. The Goulburn had receded to 11.74 metres by 2pm on Tuesday after it peaked at 12.06 metres on Sunday night.
Parts of Shepparton were still subject to “too late to leave” emergency advice on Tuesday afternoon.
The township of Rochester has been inundated by the Campaspe River, which peaked just after midnight on Saturday at 115.70 metres AHD, with about 1000 homes affected.
Business owners returned to the town centre at the weekend to find the watermark had reached about 60 centimetres up their walls. As of 2pm on Tuesday, the Campaspe at Rochester had receded to 113.14 metres AHD.
The town’s sewerage system has been knocked out and could take up to two months to restore, and the area remains under a “move to higher ground” emergency warning.
Melbourne’s suburbs and Maribyrnong
The above satellite imagery of Melbourne was captured about 11.30am on Monday – after the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers had peaked over the weekend. The image shows the sediment and mud that has been washed into Port Phillip Bay.
More than 240 homes were flooded in Maribyrnong, in Melbourne’s north-west, on Friday when the Maribyrnong River, which runs north to south through the centre of the image, breached its banks. The river peaked at 4.22 metres on Friday. As of 9pm on Tuesday, the river level at Maribyrnong had dropped back to 0.444 metres.
Notably, the Flemington Racecourse – which has been criticised over a flood wall installed in 2007 – can be seen in pristine condition in the image above.
Residents of Charlton had a lucky escape when the Avoca River peaked at 7.87 metres at 1.40am on Monday, avoiding the total inundation experienced in 2011 when 400 homes were affected.
The emergency warning for the area has been downgraded to a watch and act alert.
As of 2pm Tuesday, the river was at 5.42 metres and falling, but there was a major flood warning in place for residents downstream of Charlton.
Murchison and surrounds
Farmland near the tiny town of Murchison, 40 kilometres south-west of Shepparton, has been inundated beyond the normal area of river swelling, as revealed in satellite imagery captured on Monday. The town was still under a “too late to leave” emergency evacuation warning on Tuesday afternoon.
The Goulburn River peaked at Murchison at 12.04 metres just before midnight on Saturday. As of 2pm on Tuesday, it had fallen to 10.79 metres and was expected to fall below 10.70 metres, its major flood level, in the early hours of Wednesday.
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