A northwest Australian region has been hit by “one in 100 year” floods, prompting military aircraft to evacuate residents from flooded communities.

The crisis in Western Australia’s Kimberley region was sparked last week by ex-tropical cyclone Ellie, which brought a year’s worth of rain to some areas in a matter of days.

Military aircraft helped airlift supplies and evacuate residents in cut-off towns like Fitzroy Crossing, home to about 1,000 people.

Officials have described it as a “one in 100-year” flood event, as the country’s prime minister visited remote flood-hit communities promising to repair homes and rebuild infrastructure.

Members of the State Emergency Service repair damage while on deployment in the flood-hit Australian town of Broome.  Photo: Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA/Reuters
Members of the State Emergency Service are repairing the damage in the town of Broome. Photo: Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA/Reuters

Western Australia’s Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson said: “People in the Kimberley are facing a once-in-100-year flood, the worst in Western Australia’s history.”

He added that “water is everywhere” and in some parts the floodwaters stretched 31 miles (50 km) and “as far as the eye can see”.

Prime Minister Anthony Albany said it was too early to estimate the full cost of rebuilding damaged highways and bridges but the final figure would be “huge”.

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The floods come after a year of unseasonably wet weather that brought four major floods to eastern parts of the country.

Flooding has destroyed highways and bridges, as officials warned that some evacuation centers did not have the facilities to handle the number of displaced people.

Officials said the Great Northern Highway, which connects the country’s vast north, was broken in several places, as the Fitzroy River poured into floodplains and in some places water spread miles up the riverbank.

Kimberley Region WA Photo: Leitch McClymont
Photo: Leitch McClymont

More than 280 people have been evacuated or relocated across the region, state officials said Sunday.

Derby and West Kimberleyshire president Geoff Herewa told 6PR radio on Monday that the Fitzroy Crossing evacuation center did not have enough toilets or facilities to cope with up to 300 displaced people.

On Monday, Mr Albany pledged A$10,000 (£5,700) to repair the house and a similar amount to replace household goods.

The Bureau of Meteorology said 2022 was the ninth wettest year on record.

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