Rain a natural disaster: Government

TORRENTIAL rain which flooded the Riverina on Sunday has now been declared a natural disaster.Confirmation damage caused by the record-breaking rain was now considered a disaster came yesterday afternoon, which Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan said was positive news for people affected by the downpour.“These natural disaster declarations mean that a range of people who have suffered property damage, including residents, councils, primary producers and business owners, can seek assistance,” Mr Whan said.Disaster relief funding is available for individuals, businesses, primary producers, councils, churches and sporting clubs to help them recover from flood and rain damage.“The Keneally Government stands ready to provide these communities with the assistance they need,” Mr Whan said.Wagga received 110mm of rain between 9am on Sunday and 9am yesterday.Council and emergency workers are still counting the cost of the floods, but it is estimated as much as 100 tonnes of stored grain had been lost.More than 200 kilometres of fencing has also been damaged or destroyed by the rising waters, but the extent of damage to crops, stock and pasture will not be known until the floodwaters have receded.The Murrumbidgee River was expected to peak just below its minor flood level of five metres, while the Kyeamba Creek broke its banks on Sunday but was receding yesterday.Transport was still in disarray with some roads remaining closed yesterday, while the railway line is closed at Harefield.“Buses have replaced trains between Cootamundra and Melbourne and Melbourne and Junee,” Mr Whan said.Fifty defence personnel were called in to help with sandbagging and evacuating Ladysmith, while State Emergency Services volunteers were called in from Albury, Cootamundra, Junee, Griffith and The Rock to help.The SES responded to about 100 calls in Wagga and 150 additional calls in the Murrumbidgee area.A Wagga City Council spokesman said council workers had been out since about 1am yesterday in a bid to assess the damage, but were still counting the cost of the disaster.

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