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Woman’s body found, new evacuation warning with more heavy rain on the way for Victoria

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said search and rescue officers located a body, believed to be that of a missing 20-year-old Simpson woman, in floodwaters off Maddens Bridge Road about 10.40am.

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“While the body is yet to be formally identified, police believe it is that of missing woman Nina, who went missing from Simpson on Wednesday,” the spokeswoman said.

In the state’s east, Victoria SES chief officer Tim Wiebusch said the current onset of river flooding was causing real concern, with the Thompson River expected to impact Sale in coming hours.

Mr Wiebusch said emergency services were already in the process of relocating a nearby caravan park and door-knocking homes.

“Regardless of COVID restrictions, if you do find yourself presented with an emergency warning or asked to evacuate you can absolutely leave your home to move to a safer location,” he said.

On the outskirts of Melbourne, the upper reaches of the Yarra River are expected to see major flooding with the Healesville-Yarra Glen Road closed on Friday.

Emergency crews rescue a woman in Olinda.

Emergency crews rescue a woman in Olinda.Credit:Joe Armao

The racecourse and 20 properties there are expected to come under threat, Mr Wiebusch said.

Three major flood warnings remain for Traralgon Creek and the Thompson and Yarra rivers. A moderate warning remains for the Latrobe, Mitchell and Werribee rivers, Mr Wiebusch said.

Mr Wiebusch said there had been the 42 flood rescues in the past 24 hours.

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“I can’t emphasise enough to never attempt to drive through flash floodwaters,” he said. “It could be the last decision you make.”

The biggest challenge now, Mr Wiebusch said, was the Traralgon community because while the river was receding and the Princes Highway reopening, more rain was forecast.

That forecast includes 80 to 100 millimetres of rain set for the Traralgon catchments later today and tonight when major flooding is expected to return, Mr Wiebusch said.

In Traralgon, 30 homes have already been affected by floodwaters alongside homes in the Hazlewood and Maffra areas.

“We expect to reissue an evacuation order again this afternoon,” Mr Wiebusch said.

Mantra Traralgon general manager Andrew McDonald spoke of a “waterfall” of water pouring into the hotel’s underground car park on Thursday morning.

“It was scary how fast it happened,” he said. “In a matter of 15 minutes, the water had flooded the bottom and was far enough into the upper basement car park that people couldn’t access their cars.”

The car park was still inaccessible on Thursday night at the hotel, which opened in January.

“I was talking to the SES guys and they thought this was a one-in-80-year, one-in-100-year flood. It’s unprecedented,” Mr McDonald said.

A further 15 to 25 millimetres of rain is forecast across the southern parts of the state and into Gippsland and 40 to 60 millimetres over western and central catchments.

As of Friday morning, Mr Wiebusch said 121,000 homes remained without power with major efforts currently under way to restore telecommunication services with phone and NBN services still down across parts of the AusNet footprint.

“We’re getting generators into sites but access has been difficult,” he said.

The lack of power has stopped some schools reopening to students as coronavirus restrictions eased throughout the state on Friday.

Warrandyte High School and Anderson’s Creek Primary School were both closed. The schools posted messages on their Facebook pages on Thursday night, saying they hoped to have electricity back on by Tuesday when students returned from the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. Lilydale High School is also closed.

Residents of Trentham are also still being advised on Friday not to drink tap water because the storm had affected access to a water treatment plant and a burst water main.

Two people have lost their lives in floodwaters in the past 24 hours.

An aerial view of flooding in the township of Traralgon in Gippsland.

An aerial view of flooding in the township of Traralgon in Gippsland. Credit:Blake Bourne

On Thursday afternoon, a rescue team recovered a man’s body in the South Gippsland town of Woodside, about 70 kilometres from Traralgon, after members of the public reported a vehicle almost submerged in floodwaters. The man is believed to be aged in his 60s.

On Friday the body of a woman, believed to be a missing 20-year-old from Simpson known as Nina, was discovered in floodwaters following a public plea for information after she failed to arrive at work on Wednesday.

Mr Merlino urgent residents in flood-affected areas to pay attention to any warnings.

“It was quite extraordinary leaving home and driving through the Dandenongs this morning. Just massive trees across homes across the roads,” Mr Merlino said.

“If there is an evacuation warning, please get out.”

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With Roy Ward, Anna Prytz

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