BEAUFORT Lake has burst its banks after a night of heavy rain, forcing the evacuation of residents.More than 100 people were evacuated from their homes in the town, west of Ballarat, about 5am.Residents in the east of Beaufort at Olinda, Leichardt, Beggs and Pratt streets were asked to relocate, as were those living in Willoby Road.An emergency relief centre has been established at Beaufort's Goldfields Recreation Reserve, near the caravan park, which has also been evacuated.Beaufort Newsagency owners Mary and Jim Cox were among those having to leave their homes.The couple packed a suitcase of necessities before heading to their business where they plan to stay for the next couple of days.Mr Cox said although the rain had eased, he expected water levels to continue to rise somewhat within the next few hours."What has happened is the wall at the north end of Beaufort Lake has come over the top. The dam wall has broken," Mr Cox said."I would suggest the water running through our house would be at least one-metre high. The lower part of Neill street would be at least two metres deep or deeper."Mr Cox, who has been at the newsagency since 2004, said a little over half the town had been affected."The town is handling things quite well. The SES notified people by phone early this morning and houses were door-knocked.""I know there is a lot of debris and a lot of trees down across the place," he said"The majority of the town has been affected."Meanwhile, businesses at Skipton are under water after the town's creek overflowed early this morning.Stores on the lower end of Montgomery street including the supermarket, chemist, hotel, and garage have all been affected. Skipton Art Gallery and Pottery are also under water.Skipton Post Office owner Margaret Langhorne said business owners woke up to the floods this morning."I think they said it happened around 4.30am," she said."We sandbagged yesterday but the water is just over the top of the sandbags."None of the businesses are open today except the roadhouse. There are some houses under threat near the bridge."The Glenelg Highway has been blocked on both sides of Skipton.Smythe Street, Wright Street, Park Lane, Lismore Road and Rounds Road have also been closed.Police are restricting access to the town centre due to the localised flooding."You can't get in or out of Skipton," Ms Langhorne said.Corbett's Skipton fertiliser and agricultural supplies owner Lance Corbett said the businesses in the main street were about one-metre under water."The creek's flooded and the Jubilee Park Reservoir is well overflowed and flowing into town," Mr Corbett said."We've been lucky the rain has stopped for the last three or four hours and that's going to make a difference."But Mr Corbett said water levels at Emu Creek were still expected to rise due to the floods in Beaufort.This morning's evacuations come after heavy rain across the state's west overnight.Major flood warnings have been issued for the Campaspe, Loddon, Wimmera and Avoca rivers, while a severe weather warning has been issued for Ballarat.Ballarat received 95mm of rain in the 24 hours to 9am today.This comes on top of 108.2mm already recorded earlier this week.Ballarat's long-term average rainfall for January is just 38.1mm.The Bureau of Meteorology warnings come as a low pressure system, currently situated south of Warrnambool, moves southward.According to the Bureau of Meteorolgy, an associated low pressure trough over western Victoria will move across central districts during this morning and early afternoon .Damaging winds averaging 70-80 km/h with gusts to around 100-120 km/h are forecast to continue over elevated areas of the North Central, Central, North East and Gippsland districts today, easing from central districts during the early afternoon.Isolated gusts of 120-140km/h are possible about exposed peaks.Wind gusts to 90 km/h are possible elsewhere in these districts, mainly associated with heavy rain.More to come.