Every flood, we learn what to do different

NOT SO BAD: Myrtleford resident Bob Rigoni points out the dash marking the flood heights of 2010, higher than that of last week. Mr Rigoni's property has largely been left unscathed. Picture: MARK JESSER

NOT SO BAD: Myrtleford resident Bob Rigoni points out the dash marking the flood heights of 2010, higher than that of last week. Mr Rigoni's property has largely been left unscathed. Picture: MARK JESSER

Bob Rigoni knows last week’s Myrtleford floods weren’t as bad as in 2010 – because the dash on his garden wall tells him so.

The conditions which saw evacuation orders issued across the town have left their mark on Mr Rigoni’s Whalleys Lane property, but nothing comparable to previous floods.

“About lunchtime Tuesday, I thought it didn’t look good at all,” he said.

“I always look at the Eurobin gauge on the Ovens River and the Harris Lane gauge on the Buckland and they were telling me it was coming.

“Then to top it off, we got another 69 millimetres on Buffalo and if we get eight to 10 inches on the Buffalo in 24 to 36 hours, we get flooded.”

Mr Rigoni noted the Eurobin gauge was at 6.19 metres that Tuesday – compared to the 6.5m reading of 2010.

His property was only accessible by boat for two days, and while some of his crops may be impacted, he will largely be unaffected.

Others, like a farmer on Lower River Road, haven’t been as lucky.

In response, the Victorian Government added Myrtleford to flood assistance relief grants open to 39 local government areas across the state.

Mr Rigoni said the vast majority of Myrtleford had come out unscathed.

“I think Myrtleford was better off this time … it was nothing like 1993,” he said.

Further down Whalleys Lane, Denis and Sandra Piazza were also thankful not to see a repeat of 1993.

“You come back and it’s just slush – you take everything out and the fire brigade come and wash it all down,” Mrs Piazza said.

“In 1993 we lost all the doors and wardrobes, so we knew in 1998 to take them off and put them on top of beds.

“In the 2010 flood, we blocked off all the air vents around the house so the water couldn’t get in to come up through the boards.”

The Rigoni and Piazza families have both built small brick garden walls that help to protect their homes.

Mr Rigoni said even the peace of mind the barrier gave was a major benefit.

“If it goes over that a lot of people are going to have a lot of trouble,” he said.

“I hope I never see it.”

Mr Piazza knows little could be done to prevent the floods, but said many in the community supported his view to change a nearby low bridge across Happy Valley Creek.

“If it was cleaned out with no restrictions, the water would get away and Wangaratta and Whorouly would be better off – it would get there and get away quicker,” he said.

“No one thing will fix the problem.

“We’ve learnt over the years how to cope with the floods.”

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