An elderly woman almost drowned in floodwaters after she was washed off a bridge as ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie batters northern Australia.
The tiny outback town of Timber Creek in the Northern Territory, home to just 278 people, has been cut off by once-in-50-year flooding.
The cyclone lashed the area on Christmas Eve, inundating the town on the banks of the crocodile-infested Victoria River and cutting it off by road.
Helicopters and planes were also unable to land because of high winds and heavy rain.
Homes have been destroyed in a tiny outback town stranded by once-in-50-year flooding from ex-cyclone Ellie, while an elderly resident was washed off a bridge
The cyclone lashed normally bone dry Timber Creek, home to just 278 people, on Christmas Eve, inundating the town on the banks of the crocodile-infested Victoria River and cutting it off by road
Photos showed local homes and cars, the only hotel and the racecourse in the normally dry town, 600km south-west of Darwin, underwater.
Reports said several people in Timber Creek had to be rescued by local emergency services, including a 74-year-old woman who was washed off a bridge, the NT News reported.
Police rescued the woman and she was eventually taken to Katherine District Hospital. Katherine, 300km away, is the nearest major town.
NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles announced emergency services were granted special powers to deal with a ‘sudden and intense’ flooding event at Timber Creek.
The Timber Creek Hotel posted a viral video on December 23, showing floodwaters overwhelming its forecourt after it was forced to close.
Hundreds of the town’s residents spent Friday night on the town’s basketball court as their houses flooded.
The Timber Creek Hotel posted a viral video on December 23, showing floodwaters overwhelming its forecourt after it was forced to close
The Northern Territory’s chief minister, Natasha Fyles, announced emergency services were granted special powers to deal with a ‘sudden and intense’ flooding event at Timber Creek
Timber Creek’s racecourse was also under water on Friday as the storm lashed the tiny community and cut it off by road
Victoria Daly Regional Council Mayor Brian Pedwell said some of his own family members were cut off from the town after they travelled to do Christmas shopping and when they tried to return, found the highway flooded.
He was ‘gobsmacked’ by the amount of water on the road.
The Victoria Highway was closed between Timber Creek and the Western Australian border.
The weather bureau warned anyone travelling in the region to check road conditions before setting off.
It warned ‘roads including major highways may become impassable. Some communities and homesteads may become isolated’.
Cyclone Ellie was downgraded on Friday afternoon, but is still expected to produce damaging weather with isolated rainfall of up to 400mm and wind gusts of up to 90km/h in places.
‘Ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie will be slow-moving over the southwestern Barkly District from Sunday until Tuesday,’ the Bureau of Meteorology announced,
‘Then move across the Tanami District during Wednesday, bringing heavy rainfall over the flood watch area.
‘Multiple roads and major highways in various parts of NT, including Victoria, Buntine, Barkly and Sturt highway have and may be impacted due to the heavy rainfall observed.
‘Widespread heavy rainfall with isolated heavy thunderstorms are expected across central parts of the Territory over the coming days.’
The town’s mayor admitted some of his own family was prevented from returning after roads were closed due to flooding while they went Christmas shopping hundreds of kilometres away
Reports said several people in Timber Creek had to be rescued by local emergency services, including a 74-year-old woman who was washed off a bridge. Pictured, the Timber Creek Hotel in 2020
Tanami, Gregory, and Carpentaria were could receive up to 120mm of rain, with 160mm possible, with flash flooding also possible.
Tennant Creek, Elliott, Kalkarindji, Lajamanu, Ali Curung, and Top Springs could also cop severe weather, the BoM said.
On the Timber Creek Hotel’s social media channels, some followers who had visited were concerned about the whereabouts of crocodiles that live in the now swollen Victoria River.
One of the hotel’s attractions is crocodile feeing three times a week at 5pm.
In 2019, the territory’s parks and wildlife service relocated a 4.5m crocodile from the river.
In 2020, a local fisherman caught more than he bargained for when a massive saltwater croc grabbed onto his line.