Disaster recovery assistance has been made available to flood-affected communities in Western Australia’s Kimberley region after heavy rainfall associated with Ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie has caused significant impacts to the area.
The shires of Derby West Kimberley, Broome, Wyndham East Kimberley and Halls Creek are eligible for assistance measures through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).
Eligible costs include assistance measures for individuals and families, businesses, primary producers, non-profit organisations and local and state governments.
Under these arrangements, state governments determine what assistance measures will be activated, and the areas in which they will be made available.
This funding can be allocated to emergency assistance, temporary living expenses, replacement of essential household goods, housing repairs, personal and financial counselling assistance.
Ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie crossed into Western Australia from the Northern Territory on December 28, 2022.
Since December 30, widespread rainfall totals between 200-500mm have been recorded across the Kimberley region.
Major flooding has occurred along the Fitzroy River to Fitzroy Crossing, reaching record levels of 15.81m.
Major roads and associated infrastructure have been damaged and floodwaters have isolated towns including Fitzroy Crossing and many remote indigenous communities along the Fitzroy River.
Some local communities have chosen to relocate to safer areas until the threat passes. Community infrastructure and homes have also been impacted by the event.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the Commonwealth would provide any support requested by the Western Australian Government.
“We have already deployed aircraft to assist with evacuations and to transport crucial supplies, and will continue to provide support now and long after the water recedes,” Prime Minister Albanese said.
“I’d like to thank all of our hard working emergency services personnel and volunteers for their hard work and assistance during this unprecedented event.”
Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan, said the flooding was unprecedented for the Kimberley region and had wrought devastating impacts on local homes, businesses, and communities and the recovery process would take some time.
“This is a once-in-a-century event so the State and Federal Governments will work for as long as it takes to ensure communities recover and rebuild.
“We’ll continue to work cooperatively with the Federal Government to get support out to the communities affected and I thank everyone who has been assisting in the response for their efforts.”
Federal Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt said the rainfall in the north-west of the country was extraordinary.
“This sheer amount of water that is flowing through the region is just staggering and the impact this is having on these communities is immense,” he said.
“We have responded quickly by making assistance available to help with the cost of repairs to damaged infrastructure that is vital to supply chains and access for local communities.
“We have also deployed two C-27J Spartan and one C-130J Hercules transport aircraft to evacuate residents and transport supplies to cut-off communities following requests for support from the Western Australian Government.
“The Albanese Government is committed to ensuring communities are better prepared and can recover quicker from natural disasters.”
WA Minister for Emergency Services, the Hon Stephen Dawson, said the McGowan Government had been in regular contact with the Federal Government to fast-track the activation of the DRFA, which will provide much-needed support for the community.
“First of all, can I say thank you to the community that’s been impacted for their resilience.
“People in the Kimberley are experiencing a one-in-100-year flood event, the worst flooding Western Australia has ever seen.
“While our primary focus has been on ensuring people’s lives and livelihoods, we must eventually pivot to recovery actions and support.
“With this in mind, we have been working closely with the Commonwealth Government to make sure people in impacted communities will have access to Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.”