‘Catastrophic’ weather will worsen with 15,000 given evacuation warning

‘Catastrophic’ weather will worsen with 15,000 given evacuation warning

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the impact of several weather fronts has been “catastrophic”, putting another 15,000 people on notice for possible evacuation.

A helicopter and boat rescue operation is underway to extract up to 500 trapped people from 200 homes near the Colo River on the Central Tablelands.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the danger is far from over.Credit:Janie Barrett

The team will access live information, intelligence sharing, digital mapping, as well as public information to quickly get critical information to the public.

“Now at RFS headquarters, not only are we dealing with the crisis of the flood situation, but already considering the clean-up operation and recovery,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said the NSW SES had responded to 9500 requests for assistance since the floods began, with 1300 in the past 24 hours. He said 850 of those had been flood rescues of motorists.

“We are statistically crawling towards the inevitable fatality, that must be avoided,” he said.

“Australian Defence Force resources and assets were requested yesterday. Two aviation assets from Nowra will be deployed [and] a second request to the ADF was made last night for for the military to provide assistance as quickly as possible for the clean-up efforts.”

Ms Berejiklian said while some parts of the state might see sunny weather on Wednesday, the danger was not over.

“Quite the contrary,” she said.

“Many river systems are still taking major flows and continue to rise. So there could be flooding in communities we haven’t anticipated and that’s why please, please listen to the advice.”

The Colo River was issued with an evacuation warning overnight, with residents in all properties along and adjacent to the Colo River including Wheeny Creek, told to evacuate by 5am on Tuesday morning. The SES has serious concern for about 200 residents in the area.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Helen Kirkup said the combination of a coastal and inland trough over the country would result in heavy rain battering the South Coast. The area could receive between 100 and 150mm of rain during the day, while also experiencing strong winds and damaging surf.

Hard hit areas, such as the Mid-North Coast and Central Coast, are expected to experience a slight easing in conditions on Tuesday.

But Ms Kirkup said there could be some good news for the state, with a possibility of seeing “stars overnight” in some places as the rain begins to clear.

The river reached 14.19 metres on Tuesday morning but may peak at 16 metres in the afternoon – a flood peak similar to the 1978 flood.

The NSW SES received 1390 requests for assistance in the 24 hours to Tuesday 7am and completed 114 flood rescues. There are 1800 volunteers working to assist people across the state. More than 536 SES teams have activated since 4pm on March 21.

The Australian Defence Force will also support NSW’s flood emergency efforts from Tuesday, with two search and rescue helicopters operating out of the South Coast in 24-hour operations.

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