People urged to stay safe after reports of children playing at Hopkins River mouth

Stay safe: Foam likely to contain chemicals or bacteria has collected at the mouth of the Hopkins River as a result of the floods. Authorities have reissued warnings for people to stay away. Picture: Amy Paton

Stay safe: Foam likely to contain chemicals or bacteria has collected at the mouth of the Hopkins River as a result of the floods. Authorities have reissued warnings for people to stay away. Picture: Amy Paton

People have been urged to stay safe in receding floodwaters as it emerged some people have been bringing pets and children to play at the mouth of the swollen Hopkins River in Warrnambool.

The State Emergency Service warned people to stay informed and prepared as more rain is forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday and flooded areas could see water begin to rise again.

Warrnambool SES controller Giorgio Palmeri said he had been told some parents were letting their children play in the area, which was not safe.

“There is plenty of foam coming down the river, which can be contaminated with bacteria and chemicals,” Mr Palmeri said.

“There’s also the risk of debris in the water and of falling on unstable banks.”

A warning about the dangers of entering floodwaters had already been put out on Sunday after people on jetskis took to the Hopkins River at Allansford and the falls.

“We encourage parents to keep children and pets far away from the mouth,” Mr Palmeri said.

“The flow is still very strong and if someone fell in they could easily be washed away.”

He said it would be at least a week before water would begin to clear up.

Mr Palmeri said he had received information that the Hopkins River catchment would receive another 40mm of rainfall sometime on Wednesday, and people should stay alert.

There is plenty of foam coming down the river, which can be contaminated with bacteria and chemicals. There’s also the risk of falling on unstable banks. - Giorgio Palmeri

He said it was unlikely water in areas at risk of flooding such as Allansford and Panmure would reach the same levels it did over the weekend, but said people should be prepared.

“It’s only a moderate flood watch, but it’s really hard to predict and forecast these things,” Mr Palmeri said.

He said in the meantime the SES would continue to monitor water levels and conditions and keep people updated.

Mr Palmeri said sandbags protecting properties in Allansford and Panmure would remain in place until at least after Wednesday.

“We are still waiting until we are sure there is not going to be any potential risk,” Mr Palmeri said.

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