Monday Dec 11, 2023

About 50,000 people given evacuation orders or warnings

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Severe weather continues to batter New South Wales, with the Hunter region and Mid-North Coast next in line for a drenching as western Sydney endures widespread flooding yet again.

About 50,000 people have been given evacuation orders or warnings and several major flood alerts are in place including for the Hawkesbury-Nepean catchment as rivers rise.

The Bureau of Meteorology says moderate to heavy rain fell overnight in Sydney, the Central Coast and the Hunter but will ease later on Tuesday with the weather system heading to the Mid-North Coast on Wednesday.

“We can expect to see some of the rivers in the Mid-North Coast respond to rain that falls there tonight and tomorrow,” the BOM’s Jane Golding said.

Flood risks for already-soaked catchments will remain for weeks.

“Locations across NSW have seen 800 millimetres over the last four days … the landscape is pretty saturated at the moment and it’s going to take quite a bit of time to dry out,” Ms Golding said.

State Emergency Service Commissioner Carlene York says resources have been directed north, with backup requested from Victoria.

“We’re talking to the other states today about what might be needed over the next couple days,” she said.

Another 100 Australian Defence Force members should arrive on Wednesday and could be dispatched to the Hunter.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet pleaded with people to follow SES evacuation orders, saying two of the 22 flood rescues conducted overnight were in areas people had been told to leave.

“They’re also putting our volunteers at risk … if those orders are in place, and your home is affected, please leave,” he said.

Ms York said people along southwest Sydney’s Woronora River were caught out when levels rose quickly on Monday.

“The waters rise very rapidly … the evacuation orders had been issued many hours before and we got calls for assistance for evacuations,” Ms York said.

SES crews responded to another call from someone claiming to need rescuing from a roof.

“Very disappointingly … it turned out to be a hoax,” Ms York said, saying the call took resources away from people who genuinely needed help.

Major flooding continues along the Hawkesbury River at Windsor, Sackville, North Richmond and Wisemans Ferry to the northwest of Sydney.

Rivers are rising in the Hunter, and major flooding is occurring at Bulga on the Wollombi Brook.

Rain is forecast for the rest of the week, extending north to areas still reeling from record-breaking floods in February, March and April.

Flood Recovery Minister Steph Cooke said about 400 people are in the state’s nine evacuation centres, and 150 in emergency accommodation.

About 19,000 homes are without power after rising waters and damaging winds prompted energy companies to cut electricity.

Meanwhile, joint disaster funding has been announced for 23 affected local government areas.

Ms Cooke said it was an important step to getting support to communities and encouraged people to contact ServiceNSW to access relief.

Federal Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt said the Commonwealth and NSW governments were working to ensure affected areas get financial and other assistance as soon as possible.

“We have seen some of these impacted communities being hit by floods for a third and fourth time in 18 months, which is extremely distressing to the residents,” he said.

Mr Perrottet said the federal minister had been at the State Emergency Operations Centre on Monday.

“We’re running the operational side, but them having an understanding of what’s going on on the ground is incredibly important,” he said.

Evacuation orders in place for parts of:

  • Windsor, Shanes Park, Pitt Town, Pitt Town Bottoms, McGraths Hill, Mulgrave, Vineyard, Chipping Norton, Lower Portland, Georges Hall, Warwick Farm, Moorebank, Lansvale, Woronora, Bonnet Bay, Wisemans Ferry, Richards, Wilberforce, Cattai, Sackville, Londonderry, Ebenezer, Riverstone, Agnes Banks, South Maroota, Yarramundi, Penrith, Wallacia, Emu Heights, Emu Plains, Leets Vale, Cumberland Reach, Oakville, North Richmond, Freemans Reach, Bligh Park, Richmond Lowlands, Angus, Cornwallis, Gronos Point, Pleasure Point, Bents Basin, Camden

Evacuation warnings in place for parts of:

  • Mooney Mooney Dam, Sandy Point, St Georges Basin, Sussex Inlet, Schofields, Windsor Downs, Marsden Park, Melonba, Mulgoa, Clarendon, Leonay, Lake Illawarra, South Windsor, Cranebrook, Regentville, Castlereagh, East Hills, Picnic Point, Elderslie

Major flooding is occurring along:

  • Hawkesbury River at North Richmond (14.03m, steady), at Sackville (10.69m, steady), at Windsor (13.93m, steady), and at Wisemans Ferry (5.21m, falling)
  • Wollombi Brook at Bulga (5.96m, rising)

Moderate flooding is occurring along:

  • Nepean River at Menangle Bridge (10.2m, steady) and at Camden Weir (8.92m, steady)
  • Wollombi Brook at Wollombi (11.71m, rising)

Residents ordered to evacuate can return with caution to:

  • Plough and Harrow Dam near Abbostbury and Cecil Hills.


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