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More rain for flood-battered SA regions

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Flood-stricken parts of South Australia have been battered by more heavy rain, amid fears crucial road and rail links may be cut for up to a fortnight.

Road and rail links remain cut with towns, including Coober Pedy, isolated and relying on airlifted food and other supplies.

The Bureau of Meteorology said falls of more than 150 millimetres were possible across the next 24 hours.

Locations forecast to feel the brunt include Marla, Coober Pedy, Moomba, Ernabella, Oodnadatta and Marree.

Ernabella has already had more than 100 millimetres in the past day.

On Monday night, Port Augusta was also drenched, with more than 50 millimetres of rain falling in about an hour, causing flooding across the town. It is about a quarter of the town’s annual rainfall.

The bureau said a trough extending from Western Australia’s north was bringing tropical moisture into SA.

On Monday, relief food supplies were flown to Coober Pedy, in SA’s north, after heavy rain cut road and rail links to the region, with locals still facing a “perilous” situation.

Four RAAF flights from Adelaide on Monday were expected to be followed by two more on Tuesday. They are carrying 20 tonnes of groceries and other essentials.

More could be sent depending on the prevailing conditions and the needs of locals.

Brigadier Graham Goodwin said the force was ready to help out in any way it could.

“Our principal duty here is to assist the local community of Coober Pedy and the outlying areas, giving them surety and certainty of their food supplies,” he said.

“The people are not going to be left without what they require. We are there to help people at a time of crisis.

“Let me assure the people of Coober Pedy, there will be food coming, there will be supplies coming.”

With train tracks washed away and roads underwater, including the Stuart Highway, the inland drenching has also disrupted food and other supplies to both the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

State Emergency Service Deputy Chief Officer Liz Connell said locals should be prepared for more severe conditions and should keep clear of floodwaters.

She also urged motorists to delay any travel plans to the area with many roads still closed.

“We are expecting more rain over the next 72 hours and are expecting that will create more challenges in getting vehicles through and getting supplies to that community,” she said.

Premier Steven Marshall said more rain would put extreme pressure on an already “tenuous” situation as he also called on people to cancel any unnecessary travel to the state’s north.

“It is a perilous situation at the moment. This additional rain is creating havoc,” he said.

“I think we’ve still got a couple of worrying days ahead of us.

“There is a double-edged sword because for some communities this is very welcome rain. But it is causing major problems with infrastructure and it’s cutting off communities. This is of great concern.”

Current estimates suggest regular rail freight routes will remain closed for at least another 12 days and possibly longer.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation said repairs were underway along a section of track more than 300 kilometres long with 18 areas of damage. A small section remained inaccessible, it said.

“Additional contractors are now on-site to assist ARTC crews and works include building access roads, ensuring supplies can get to damaged locations and supporting restoration works,” a spokesperson said.

“We want to reassure our customers and the community that we will restore these links as quickly as possible.”

Damage reports for roads across SA north continued to be hampered by high water levels making full assessments impossible at this stage.

A 14-day major emergency was declared in South Australia on Friday, allowing the state’s Police Commissioner Grant Stevens to direct the movement of freight, ensure food security and co-ordinate relief efforts.

-with AAP

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