News Severe storm bears down on flood-hit northern NSW

Severe storm bears down on flood-hit northern NSW

Lavenders Bridge in Bellingen is somewhere beneath the debris-strew torrent of the Bellingen River. Photo: Instagram: Mel Bradbury
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Severe thunderstorms, potentially causing flash floods, are set to hit areas of northern New South Wales still recovering from days of heavy rain and flooding.

In an updated warning issued at 6:46pm the Bureau of Meteorology said storms were likely to produce damaging winds, large hailstones and heavy rainfall over Walgett, Burren Junction, Lightning Ridge, Brewarrina, Collarenebri, Weilmoringle and Enngonia.

Warnings for the Northern Rivers, Mid North Coast, Hunter and Central Tablelands districts were cancelled.

Forecaster Gabrielle Woodhouse said some parts of northern NSW had already been inundated.

“We saw 42 millimetres in just under an hour at Tuckurimba, and for the rest of the afternoon we’re still expecting showers to persist and thunderstorms through that north-eastern part of NSW.

“But we’re also going to see rain and thunderstorms develop further in the northern inland area.”

Heavy rain that has already fallen in northern NSW this weekend saw hundreds of people cut off, evacuations ordered and more than 20 people rescued from cars.

The SES has completed 78 rescues and received 2,988 calls for assistance since the start of soggy weather earlier in the week.

This morning the NSW SES said about 2,100 people in small communities around the state’s north and mid-north coasts were cut off. That number had dropped to about 1,300 by midday.

“We’re working with those communities to make sure they have everything they need,” spokesman Brent Hunter said.

SES spokeswoman Terri Langendam said residents in Wooli, Thora Darkwood and Shannondale were affected.

“They definitely are safe, SES has been in contact with them earlier,” she said.

The rain had led authorities to issue flood warnings for several rivers from the central coast to the northern rivers, and Ms Langendam earlier said evacuation orders had been issued at Murwillumbah Showground and the Bellinger River Tourist Park.

The SES has since posted a tweet that the Bellinger River Tourist Park has been give the “all clear”.

Lavenders Bridge in Bellingen reopened this afternoon as flood levels eased in the Bellinger River.

Mr Hunter urged people to stay away from floodwaters, with police issuing fines for motorists ignoring warning signs.

“In the Royal National Park we actually had to call police down to deal with people who were ignoring those signs and putting their lives and our lives at risk,” he said.

“It’s not worth your life.”