News State NSW News Evacuation orders and rescues as rising floodwaters impact two states

Evacuation orders and rescues as rising floodwaters impact two states

The swollen Hunter River in Muswellbrook, in the Upper Hunter Region of NSW on Saturday. Photo: SES
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An evacuation order has been issued to residents of towns along the Hunter River in NSW as rising floodwaters threaten power and water services.

Widespread heavy rainfall led to flooding across much of the state, although rain eased on Saturday afternoon and there is not much forecast for Sunday.

However, the statewide situation remains volatile, with numerous watches and warnings active following a month of heavy rainfall.

More than 30 people have been rescued from floodwaters since Friday lunchtime. The SES has received more than 745 requests for help.

In the Hunter, major flooding is on the cards in Singleton for Sunday morning, and Maitland is also on alert.

On Monday, the Macquarie River at Warren could also reach high levels.

Areas of major concern include along the Namoi River at Gunnedah, in the state’s northeast, and the Castlereagh River around Coonamble in the central west.

The Bureau of Meteorology said some areas of the state were hit with more than 100mm of rain on Friday.

On Saturday evening, there were major flood warnings for the Lachlan at Jemalong and the Namoi at Narrabri and Wee Waa, where it’s feared residents could be cut off for more than a week.

Sydney’s Warragamba Dam began spilling shortly after 9pm on Friday.

WaterNSW said the outflow volume could peak at a rate of about 60-80 gigalitres per day, just a fraction of levels in March that peaked at 500 gigalitres per day.

“On current projections the spill could continue for up to a week,” WaterNSW said in a statement on Saturday, adding “downstream impacts are likely”.

The spillway outflow of Warragamba Dam in South West Sydney on Saturday. Photo: AAP

Premier Dominic Perrottet on Saturday urged residents to follow safety advice and avoid driving through flooding,

The number of flood rescues performed by SES volunteers was “way too high”, he said.

“Those rescues take place in the main because people aren’t following the instructions, they’re driving through floodwaters. Don’t do that. Follow the advice, that’s the best way to stay safe.”

Police said a LandCruiser was swept from a small causeway and carried 200 metres downstream by rising waters at Burrell Creek, west of Taree, on Friday afternoon.

Two men waded in to rescue the 65-year-old trapped driver but also became stranded. The trio were eventually hauled to safety by five police officers who fashioned a lasso from a length of rope.

Hunter Valley police also dragged a 52-year-old man from a spillway at Muswellbrook after his Toyota HiLux was swept 400m away by the current on Friday evening.

An RFS helicopter rescued a man trapped on the roof of his car in floodwaters at Caroona on the northeastern Liverpool Plains earlier on Friday.

Dramatic rescues in flooded Qld

Meanwhile six people including an infant child have been rescued from floodwaters in southern Queensland with a major flood warning current for the Logan and Albert rivers.

The people were all rescued late on Friday and in the early hours of Saturday after entering floodwaters despite official warnings.

They were issued after the body of a man was found in a submerged ute near Rockhampton, in central Queensland, earlier on Friday.

Police had to enter waters to rescue an infant and two women from a car struck in a torrent at Freestone Creek Bridge on the Cunningham Hwy at Warwick about 10.40pm on Friday.

About 10 minutes later emergency services were called 10km away at Swan Creek.

Officers used a rope and formed a human chain, wading into strong, waist-high current to reach a woman trapped in a car on Jack Smith Gully Rd.

They managed the pull her through the window and carry her to safety.

A man and boy stranded in rising waters in their four-wheel drive on Forest Hill Fernvale Rd, Glenore Grove, were also rescued by police about 3.20am on Saturday.

The Bureau of Meterology has issued a flood watch for all southeast Queensland catchments.

A major flood warning is current for the Logan and Albert Rivers with the town of Beaudesert set to be partially inundated.

The Logan River was at 9.07m, above the major flood level of 8.3m, on Saturday morning and could peak close to 9.2m in the afternoon, the BOM said.

Moderate flood warnings have also been issued for the Balonne, Condamine, lower Macintyre and Weir rivers in the state’s south.

Police Superintendent Danny Shaw urged people and drivers to avoid floodwaters with more rain predicted on saturday.

He said conditions can change quickly and heavy rain can significantly damage roads, so even if flooded road that appears safe on the surface, it may not be underwater.

“It’s not worth risking the lives of yourself, your loved ones, and those of emergency services,” Supt Shaw said in a statement.

“I’m urging residents to use common sense, back away from flooded roadways, delay your journey if necessary.

“If it’s flooded, forget it.”