Victoria and Tasmania struggle with heavy rain

EMERGENCY crews are on standby to combat flooding in regional Victoria that is expected to be worse than the devastating September floods, as mudslides and flash floods hit parts of the state last night.

The SES has issued major flood warnings for the Loddon and Avoca rivers and properties in the area in central Victoria are expected to be under threat with heavy rain predicted to continue today.

The state government also said that the Queensland and Victorian floods could have an impact on its first budget in May, due to a major loss of GST revenue.

Tim Wiebusch, the acting director of operations at the SES, said forecast powerful winds reaching 120km/h in elevated areas would add to the problem.

Mudslides and flash flooding forced the closure of several roads through the Grampian Ranges last night, as SES volunteers feared several bridges could be washed away.

Residents in Halls Gap and Creswick were anxiously sand-bagging their townships against rising waters.

The SES said homes near the Loddon River including Newstead, Serpentine, Bridgewater, Boort, Durham Ox and Kerang, along with those in Charlton near the Avoca River, could be flooded. The SES responded to more than 1400 requests for aid since Tuesday night, with the majority of calls from around Horsham, Ballarat, Kyneton and Mildura.

Record rains also drenched north-east Tasmania yesterday, isolating towns and soaking the floors of some homes. The beach town of Scamander recorded 278mm of rain to 9am yesterday, exceeding in 24 hours the previous January record.

with Maris Beck and Andrew Darby

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