A kayaker has been found dead in Canberra floodwaters and a surfer is in a critical condition in Sydney after wild weather lashed the NSW coast, bringing heavy rain and causing widespread flooding.
ACT Police said the man was kayaking on the Murrumbidgee River in Canberra on Sunday when he became stuck under a bridge at Point Hut.
He was found four hours later dead in the water.
Rain pelted the national capital and surrounding parts of NSW over the weekend, causing waterways to rise as Canberra recorded more rain on Saturday than June and July combined.
Towns close to the ACT were hit hard, with Bungendore inundated and minor flooding in Queanbeyan.
Meanwhile, Nine News reported a male surfer is in a critical condition after being rescued near a storm water drain at Collaroy Beach in Sydney’s north.
In a statement, ACT Policing urged the public “not to enter or play in flood waters or swollen rivers”.
Heavy rain and howling winds have wreaked havoc along the NSW coast over the weekend, prompting more than 1600 calls for help as flooding from major rivers caused road closures prompting three evacuation orders.
Sydney and the NSW Blue Mountains were also lashed by winds of up to 90 km/h, bringing down trees, causing power outages to thousands of customers and forcing the cancellation of Manly ferry services amid huge harbour swells.
Along the south coast, there were evacuation orders for thousands as the Shoalhaven and Moruya rivers peaked on Monday afternoon.
The SES issued three evacuation orders late on Sunday after up to 200 millimetres of rain hit several south coast towns in 24 hours. Some isolated areas had up to 300 millimetres.
By Monday afternoon, after the rivers peaked, many had been allowed to return home.
“We’re not aware of any shops or homes flooded, which is wonderful,” Eurobodalla Shire Council said in a social media post.
“The river is dropping nicely now with the tide.”
At Nowra, the Shoalhaven River reached a 30-year high of 4.13 metres about 9am, causing moderate flooding that cut off homes and roads.
Council crews were checking roads and bridges as the clean-up began after the weekend’s torrential rain. River levels were dropping in the area but many local roads remained closed.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said only one family had been forced to find emergency accommodation.
“Everybody else who’s asked to be evacuated has managed to find accommodation on their own,” she said.
Further north, beach erosion remains a significant concern for parts of the Illawarra, Sydney and Hunter coasts, where waves have topped five metres.
The wild weather also forced the closure of schools in the state’s south, including Windellama Public School, Tarago Public School and Captain’s Public School, the ABC reported on Monday afternoon.
Earlier, the SES had ordered residents in Moruya, Sussex Inlet and Nowra suburbs, including Terara, East Nowra, Worrigee and North Nowra to move to higher ground.
Low-lying areas of Terara Village, Ferry Lane, Lyrebird Drive Moss Street, Hyam Street, Terara Road, Bolong Road and Burrier Road were also warned of likely flooding.
There has also been minor flooding along the St Georges Basin at Sussex Inlet and Island Point, while 23 homes remain cut off at Broughton Vale near Berry.
Some 40 flood rescues had been required in NSW by Monday morning.
SES Commissioner Carlene York again warned people not to walk, drive or swim through floodwaters, which were often fast-moving and polluted with debris.
“It’s fast-flowing, there’s a lot of refuse and tree material coming down in that [Shoalhaven] river, so it’s quite dangerous,” Ms York said.
‘Scary as hell’ Manly ferry crossing the Heads
Meanwhile, in Sydney, the Manly fast ferries were cancelled on Monday due to large swells in the harbour, while train services on the south coast line were briefly out.
About 2000 Endeavour Energy customers in NSW were without power on Monday afternoon, with storms creating 270 electrical hazards from fallen trees and branches.
“Localised flooding on parts of the south coast are hampering crews from accessing damaged parts of the network in some areas,” the company said.
Wild winds damage homes, cars
Residents in Sydney’s south-west woke to huge trees collapsing over fences into parked cars.
Power was cut to thousands on Sunday night, and remained out for many into Monday.
Cabramatta resident Alma Baltazar said strong winds had brought down a tree that damaged a brick wall outside her unit.
“Last night it was a really windy night. It was just horrible, everything was shaking. My unit was shaking,” Ms Baltazar said.
“My window was shaking and I heard a big bang so I came out to look and I saw the tree just fell.”
Ms Baltazar said she didn’t expect the damage to be so extensive.
“I thought, oh no, because I saw someone’s car – I’m hoping that they should come out soon and have a look.”