River Murray community concerns rise along with water

Traders in Mannum’s main street are emptying shops of stock and houseboat residents are considering their options as the town holds a meeting tonight to discuss sandbagging and other ways to combat River Murray flooding.

Nov 21, 2022, updated Nov 21, 2022
River Murray water levels rising at the Loxton Tree of Knowledge last year.

River Murray water levels rising at the Loxton Tree of Knowledge last year.

Mid Murray Mayor Simone Bailey said options to sandbag and build levees to protect homes and businesses in River Lane and the main shopping district of Randell Street would be discussed from 6pm at the Adelaide Road leisure centre.

The state is bracing for peak River Murray flows of 175GL a day across the border in December, with the high water expected to inundate many Mannum homes and businesses at the lower end of Randell Street.

Local Mannum residents were out in force over the weekend to support shop owners including at waterskiing shop DejaVu that is clearing recently delivered Christmas stock, along with a boutique, an opportunity shop and an antiques shop.

DejaVu shop owners issued thanks to the community.

“A massive thank you to every one of you who dropped in to do some shopping, for all the offers of help (there have been many) your response has been truly overwhelming. A lot of you have your own properties to protect and still you’ve stopped to support us,” it said.

Bailey said there had been a strong community response to support all locals.

“I spoke to Lions club members yesterday and they are helping get things out of houses for those who can’t get moving trucks,” she said.

“I went to the main street of Mannum on the weekend and I couldn’t get a park, we’ve probably got a week or two before those shop owners need to close so we would like to get more people to come to the shops.”

Numerous residents will be affected, with Bailey saying most of about 30 people who live on houseboats were planning to stay at the Mannum Marina.

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“We are discussing risk and ways to plan for power and sewage being cut off,” Bailey said.

Large numbers of residents living in homes along the river at Bow Hill were also being affected, with the Mid Murray Council listing alternative accommodation options at sporting clubs or the use of storage areas for residents forced to move.

The State Government is expected to make further announcements tomorrow, with cabinet in the Riverland for meetings with councils and the Premier flagging a support program for affected communities.

Residents and businesses are likely to be impacted for months with peak flows set to remain high until late January and power already cut at many homes and shacks.

Irrigators fear they will be unable to keep horticulture crops alive as pumps near the River Murray banks are flooded, and are discussing options with the State Government, emergency services and SA Power Networks.

“I had a farmer (of potatoes) call me on the weekend, she was devastated and said they have to shift pumps and may not be able to grow a crop here for the next year, they are trying to work out how to get water through other ways,” Bailey said.

Another meeting is also being held this week in Adelaide for river shack owners.

The State Government announced on the weekend that 1.5 million sandbags and almost 8 km of flood barriers have been secured to help protect flood affected River Murray communities.

Three kilometres of DefenCell barriers from India had arrived with a further four kilometres expected on November 28 from Italy.

A resupply of 200,000 sandbags is expected on November 24, and further deliveries of 25,000 will also be received that day with an additional 168,000 to be delivered later in the month via road freight.

The State Government said it has committed $4.8 million for flood defence resources including more than $3 million for levee bank restoration works.

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