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WA floods leave critical infrastructure damaged

The floods in the Kimberley region in Western Australia have caused significant destruction to critical infrastructure, including houses, roads and bridges that need to be rebuilt. 

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan said it could take months before authorities can restore critical infrastructure in remote towns ravaged by the state’s worst floods on records.

Former tropical cyclone Ellie saw the town of Fitzroy Crossing hit with record water levels last week, with residents needing to be evacuated, homes inundated and significant damage to roads and bridges. An estimated 100 homes across the Kimberley were feared uninhabitable.

The only sealed link across the region — the Great Northern Highway — had been almost completely washed away in parts, severing towns.(Facebook: Andrea Myers)

Mr McGowan said the magnitude of repairs was starting to become apparent.

“This is an issue we’re going to have to manage for months, if not longer.”

Flood waters have seriously damaged the Fitzroy River Bridge, the only sealed road linking Broome with the rest of the Kimberley and Northern Territory.

An alternate crossing at Fitzroy Crossing – an old floodway – is unlikely to be assessed and activated until the waters recede and the wet season ends, due to the possibility of further floods and weather events.

“The bridge will have to be rebuilt, and any work can’t commence until after the wet season,” Mr McGowan said.

“This is a massive logistical exercise and will take a long period of time.”

Kimberley Quarries on stand-by

A key supplier of construction materials to the region, Kimberley Quarries operates the Nillibubbica Quarry 100 kilometres east of Broome. The quarry’s operations manager Jim Sweet said the company’s operations were not impacted by the floods.

“We were fortunate our region did not receive as much water as Fitzroy Crossing and Derby.”

He said the quarry was getting ready to cater to additional demands from Main Roads WA as repair and re-construction work gets underway.

“We had a big crushing campaign in the middle of last year and we though that would set us up for this year. But, it looks like we’ll be flat out this year with additional demands from Main Roads,” Kimberley Quarries’ director Darren Puertollano told Quarry. 

Kimberley Quarries’ operations support road and building construction works in the Kimberley, Pilbara, Greater Geraldton regions of Western Australia and parts of the Northern Territory.

“We supply any material required for roads construction. We also supply to all concrete operations in Broome, Derby and some of the Shires,” Puertollano said.

Main Roads examining the damage

Main Roads structural engineers and a senior operations director were on the ground in Fitzroy Crossing on Wednesday for a closer examination of damage to the bridge.

Main Roads maintenance crews are on standby to move into the flood affected areas in the Kimberley to repair any road damage once flood waters drop. In addition, contract construction and pavement crews are being raised in Derby to carry out heavier work where sections of road need rebuilding. Extra resources are available from Main Roads in the Pilbara if required.

Meanwhile, the Great Northern Highway (GNH) remains closed between Sandfire Roadhouse and Halls Creek due to flooding.

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