Western Australia seeks federal disaster relief after floods follow devastating fires

The Western Australian government will seek federal disaster relief to help fast-track road repairs after floods in the state’s north-west.

With a flood warning in place for the midwest Gascoyne region on Sunday, roads remain closed and residents were urged to watch for fast-flowing and rising waters.

The premier, Mark McGowan, said the tropical low-pressure system sweeping across the state had caused considerable damage, including to the Northwest Coastal Highway.

He said some closures were likely to remain in place for several weeks but authorities were already working to open the highway as soon as possible.

“Road building crews are ready to deploy as soon as flood levels recede sufficiently to make an on-the-ground assessment of the damage,” he said.

Heavy rains and strong winds were also expected to hit Perth and parts of the state’s south-west on Sunday and into Monday as the low moved down the coast.

A severe weather warning was in place for the south-west, lower south-west and Great Southern districts.

McGowan, said the severe weather came after a challenging week, with parts of the state enduring a five-day lockdown because of a coronavirus outbreak, and devastating bushfires in the Perth hills destroying 86 homes.

Reuters reported that six fires in the state’s south-west that authorities said on Sunday were probably deliberately lit were under control.

The fire and emergency services department said all the suspicious blazes had started about the same time on Saturday evening and were close to each other.

“They’ll have the book thrown at them when they’re caught,” McGowan has said of arsonists.

“If someone has deliberately done it, well then that is just a disgusting, deplorable and disgraceful act. No doubt the arson squad will hunt them down and they’ll go to jail.”

Locations that may be affected by the wild weather include Bunbury, Busselton, Collie, Manjimup, Margaret River, Augusta, Dunsborough, Harvey and Walpole.

The Bureau of Meteorology said rainfall of up to 100mm was possible in some areas, with winds gusts likely to hit 100km/h.

Tides were also likely to be higher than predicted along the west coast north of Augusta, with the potential for flooding in low-lying coastal areas.

The heaviest rainfall recorded to 8am on Sunday included 85mm at Lancelin East and 80mm at Hill River Springs.

The highest wind gusts were 100km/h at Gooseberry Hill and 94km/h at Bickley.

Since 9am on Friday, emergency services have responded to more than 110 calls.