Heavy rainfall over the past week from ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie caused river levels to rise throughout the Kimberley, and the Martuwarra-Fitzroy River is experiencing one of the largest flood events on record.
The safety and wellbeing of Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) employees and partners is of paramount concern to AWC. On Tuesday this week, three AWC staff were evacuated by helicopter from AWC’s Charnley River operations base. On Wednesday, a further eight people were evacuated by helicopter from Mornington, including four AWC staff and four Purple-crowned Fairywren researchers from Monash University. The evacuated staff and researchers are now safely in Derby, and will be relocated to Broome as conditions allow.
Northern Australia’s wet season frequently makes roads impassable for weeks or months, and communities may be partially or totally isolated for periods after heavy rainfall. However, this flooding event is exceptional – the water level is extraordinarily high, and the inundation is above the flood levels previously recorded. Many regional and remote communities and towns are also being evacuated and we wish them the very best as they deal with this devastating event. Our thoughts are with you.
There will no doubt be substantial impacts to our infrastructure and conservation activities at these sites, which will be assessed over the coming weeks. Our priority at this time is the safety and wellbeing of our staff, partners and the Kimberley community.