Laverton Flooding

As I have said before, wherever I travel, I usually see the worst weather that particular area has had in years.  Everywhere I go, I am used to hearing locals say, “Yep, this is the worst _____ (Fill in bad weather here) we have had in over _____ years!”  In today’s case, Laverton had its worst flooding in over 50 years.

Massive flooding in the middle of the world’s 8th largest desert you say?  Yep.  Probably because I am here.

In less than 12 hours, Laverton got about 5 inches of rain and flash flooding ensued.  They had to evacuated the caravan park, the school, and one of the big mining camps on the edge of town.  Every road into or out of Laverton is flooded at the moment and that means supplies will not get here.  Apparently they have a helicopter that is going to fly in food and also has 17 seats on it to evacuate if needed.  But, it looks like the waters are receding for the moment (although there is another 4 inches of rain expected in the coming hours).

I was hired by the West Australian newspaper to cover the flooding for the day.  Definitely a right place/right time sort of deal.  Here are a few of the photos I submitted to them:

Flooding in Laverton, Western AustraliaA convoy of 4×4 vehicles makes its way through floodwater rushing over the main road into Laverton, Western Australia, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011.  Over 4 inches of rain fell in the area causing flash flooding and the evacuation of the town’s school, caravan park, and the nearby Crescent Gold mining camp.

Flooding in laverton Western AustraliaLaverton Resident Jayden Laidlaw wades through floodwater along Euro Street in Laverton, Western Australia.  Over 4 inches of rain caused Skull Creek to overflow its banks.

Jack Long grabs a cigarette while inspecting flood damage inside his home in Laverton.  A swollen Skull Creek sent almost 3 feet of water through Long’s house.  “There isn’t much in here worth saving,” said Long.

Sue Long surveys the damage inside her living room after flash flooding in Laverton sent almost of 3 feet of water through her home.  Sue and her husband have lived in the house since 1984 but said they have never seen flooding this bad.


Luckily, the flood waters have receded but they still predict more rain this weekend.  A FESA helicopter (Fire & Emergency Services Authority) landed today with volunteers from SES (State Emergency Service), and, among other things, newspapers.  It looks like they ran one of my photos in both the Kalgoorlie Miner (town about 4 hours from here) and the West Australian (Perth/the West Coast’s daily).  Oh, and kudos to Australian newspapers for actually paying a decent rate for freelance photography– even when all sorts of people are sending in their camera phone shots.  Maybe I should stay in Australia where I can actually make a living off newspaper photography…

It’s was nice to get back into spot news photography for a day after working on a long-term story for so long.  Spot news is how us photojournalists get our jollies.  Don’t deny it…  Any photojournalist who says otherwise is probably lying.  Unfortunately though, this spot news is hampering my long term story this week… A week when I should be wrapping the project up.  Hopefully things will return to normal before I leave on Monday.

Here are some of the articles written about the floods:

Laverton Floods FESA helicopterLaverton Shire workers help unload supplies off a FESA helicopter that was sent to Laverton Friday morning following heavy flooding the previous day.

And the newspapers (click image to view larger):

The Kalgoorlie Miner:

The West Australian:

One Response to “Laverton Flooding”

  1. Angus says:

    Hey first up been loving your work since I first saw it on Sportsshooter. Well done getting a decent paying freelance rate in Australia, I live in Melbourne and have found spec o spot news here pays pennies but when you get a day rate it’s not too bad. If you don’t mind me asking how good was a WA day rate? I would have thought not as good as east coast but you seem happier then most with the rate, unless that’s just from an American point if view?

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