Flood evacuations expected in NSW, SES deputy head says
Emergency services are watching with “bated breath” as coastal New South Wales braces for heavy rainfall and more floods.
A severe weather warning remains in place for parts of Sydney, with residents in already flooded suburbs preparing for another onslaught.
There are fears the Hawkesbury-Nepean River will exceed the major flood levels reached last week.
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It comes as Queensland’s flood death toll rises after a car was swept off the road in the South Burnett region.
In Sydney, further public transport delays are set to hit, with warnings for commuters to expect delays and cancellations.
The heavy rainfall means some trains will be forced to operate at much lower speeds than normal.
Sydney is set to cop up to 90mm of rain today, with warnings of flash flooding and isolated falls of up to 120mm.
NSW SES Deputy Commissioner Daniel Austin said they had responded to 550 calls for help, including nine flood rescues, since late Sunday afternoon.
Volunteers were on “high alert” from the Mid North Coast down to Shoalhaven today.
“I would expect throughout today that you will see another batch of warnings and evacuation orders, potentially, for a number of catchments,” Mr Austin told Today.
“We are watching exceptionally closely a number of catchments that are going to come very close to, potentially, tops of levees, and, of course, you know, around the Hawkesbury and Central Coast and places, they’ve still got very high water levels from the last few days.
“So the water hasn’t retreated yet. We’re now going to see more flooding on top of what we’ve already seen.”
He urged people to continue to take care outdoors, including while driving.
Recovery will take ‘weeks, months, years’
Meanwhile, the clean-up continues for NSW’s Northern Rivers region, with some homes and businesses still under floodwaters at Lismore and Woodburn.
More than 2000 homes in the area have reportedly been declared unliveable.
Mr Austin said those areas too could expect further floods and rain.
“Certainly there will be a sense of frustration in regards to that. But we’re working on safety first obviously,” he said.
“We were really impressed with the way the community reacted to our warnings late last week.”
He said the area had seen a low level of flood rescues and calls for help due to people heeding the warnings.
“So we really ask the community once again to take heed, to be aware of their surroundings and do the right thing,” he said.
“Don’t put yourself and don’t put your rescuers into additional harm.”
Premier Dominic Perrottet has warned the recovery process would take “weeks, months, and years”.
He told Today that of 3000 property assessments so far, 2000 had been deemed unliveable.
“It will be a mammoth task, not just on short-term accommodation but medium- to long- term accommodation,” Mr Perrottet said.
The Premier conceded there was “lots of anger and frustration” in the region, with communities feeling abandoned and isolated.
Asked by Today host Karl Stefanovic on how he could have responded “better” to the crisis, Mr Perrottet said it was hard to assess in the initial stages.
“We’ve heard the word ‘unprecedented’, but what has occurred here is, you know, a one-in-1000-year event,” Mr Perrottet said.
He said he was “very sorry” if people felt let down by the government’s response, but pledged that the government and emergency services would continue to work to support people during the recovery phase.