'We went backwards': response to floods spark concerns

Victorian authorities have been accused of going backwards when it comes to handling flood emergencies and the system to warn locals about threats has been questioned.

In a state parliamentary hearing into the 2022 floods on Tuesday, witnesses from the Gippsland region said the natural disaster could have been handled differently.

"I don't think the community has any comfort, we have lots of recommendations come out of reports but at the end of the day when the flood happens we don't see the results of that," Traralgon Community Recovery Committee representative Ken Skinner said.

Former Latrobe City Council emergency management manager Lance King added: "I think we went backwards".

Mr Skinner was concerned there were too many alerts from the Vic Emergency app after flood peaks and said people in flood-prone areas may disregard alerts when they frequently appear on their phones.

"You don't need to tell them every hour because they will just switch (their phones) back off again if they are not affected at the time," he said.

"And therefore they'll miss the critical ones where it increases."

Earlier in the day, the committee heard the total cost of the 2022 flood disaster to Victoria's agriculture sector was estimated to be $1 billion.

Agriculture Victoria executive Dougal Purcell revealed almost 500,000 hectares of agricultural land had been lost, close to 15,000 animals died and 12,000km of fencing was damaged.

Bureau of Meteorology chief customer officer Peter Stone told the inquiry it was challenging to help people understand the impact of flooding when they issue predictions about how high water would rise above sea level.

"People build things and vegetation changes and all the rest," Mr Stone said.

"Actually converting this river height (prediction) to 'here's where the water will go' beyond the river, it's actually just technically difficult."

The inquiry will resume on December 4.

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