Flooding in Victoria

Victoria has many flood-prone communities with thousands of homes, properties and businesses at risk of flooding. Floods cause more damage per year in terms of dollars and lives lost than any other natural hazard in Australia. Flooding can happen at any time of the year.

If you live in, work in or visit areas on low-lying land, close to creeks or rivers, or near major stormwater drains you may be at risk of flooding. A well prepared community can reduce the impact of flooding by up to 80%. People who are prepared are more likely to respond to floods appropriately and

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Types of flooding

Riverine flooding

In riverine flooding, relatively high water levels overflow above the banks of a stream or river. Depending on the local landscape, some floods may pass quickly, while others will move slowly down the river, sometimes lasting for several months. As the water moves downstream during floods, this may cause flooding in areas where it is not raining.

Flash flooding

Flash flooding is caused by heavy rain over a short period of time and is generally defined as developing in six hours or less from rainfall to the onset of flooding.

Overland flooding

Overland flooding is a type of flash flooding caused by a large amount of rain falling in a small area, causing storm water drains to overload. 


Weather warnings

Flood Watches and Flood Warnings are issued by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) to tell people about possible flooding. Flood Watches mean there is a developing weather pattern that might cause floods in one or two days.

Flood Warnings mean flooding is about to happen or is already happening. Flood Warnings are classified into Minor, Moderate and Major depending on the expected size and impact of the flood.

SES will provide information about how the floodwater might affect people and properties.

Severe Weather Warnings or Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are issued when heavy rain fall that could lead to flash flooding is expected.

Flash flooding happens quickly. There may be little or no warning. The arrival time and depth of a flash flood can not usually be predicted.

Remember that you may not receive any official warning. If you think you are at risk, do not wait for an official warning to act. 


Emergency Alert

During floods, SES may provide an alert through the National Emergency Alert Telephone Warning System. All Emergency Services can use Emergency Alert to warn communities about dangerous situations by voice message to landline telephones or text message to mobile phones.

If you receive an Emergency Alert you should pay attention and act accordingly.


Emergency broadcasters

During a flood, tune in to your local emergency broadcaster: ABC Local Radio, Commercial Radio, designated Community Radio Stations and SKY News Television.

Your Emergency Broadcaster will keep you informed of local events.

Further Information

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Prepare an Emergency Plan

Flooding can happen at any time, with little warning. People who have planned and prepared for emergencies can help to reduce the impact of emergencies on their homes and families and recover faster.

Your emergency plan should include:

  • Emergencies that might affect you
  • How they might affect you
  • What you will do before, during and after an emergency
  • Where you will go if you evacuate and the safest route to get there
  • A list of contact numbers you may need

Further Information

There are simple and practical steps you can take to protect yourself, the people you love, and the things you value most. Do one simple thing – create an emergency plan using RediPlan or the Get Prepared app.

You can download your Rediplan template by visiting the Australian Red Cross website.


How SES can help you

SES is a volunteer-based organisation that helps during floods, storms, earthquake and tsunami as well as assisting with other emergencies.

During a flood, SES help may include:

  • Providing flood advice
  • Protecting essential services
  • Helping to protect properties
  • Rescuing people from floodwater
  • Advising of an evacuation 

For more information on what the SES does in the community visit the What We Do page.


What you can do to stay safe

Always keep yourself safe. Floodwater is a powerful force and there are many unseen dangers. You can’t see what lies under the water. Roads can be washed away, bridges can be damaged and floodwater may contain sewage and debris.

To help stay safe:

  • Never drive, ride or walk through floodwater
  • Never allow children to play in or near floodwater
  • If evacuated, do not return until it is safe to do so
  • Follow the advice of authorities 



During a flood SES and other emergency services may advise you to evacuate to keep you safe. It is important that you follow this advice. In an evacuation, take your emergency kit with you and report to your local evacuation centre, even if you will not be staying there, to let them know that you are safe.

You can plan to leave at any time if you do not feel safe. You do not need to wait to be told to evacuate.

During an emergency, follow the Flood Checklist to help you prepare


Flood checklist

Taking the time to plan for emergencies helps your think more clearly, have a greater sense of control, and make better decisions when an emergency happens.


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