The predicted reprieve from heavy rain and flooding across swathes of New South Wales is yet to eventuate with only the state’s far west expected to be spared from afternoon thunderstorms.
Lismore in the state’s north copped more than 100mm in two hours on Wednesday afternoon, with the State Emergency Service called in to carry out five flood rescues in just over an hour. The downpour came as the Bureau of Meteorology issued a fresh warning for severe thunderstorms.
The warning zone stretches for almost the entire state – from Mungindi near the Queensland border to Tumbarumba close to Victoria.
Almost the entire coast will be hit, with the bureau issuing a separate warning for residents of the south coast and parts of the northern rivers region and the Snowy Mountains. Those areas are likely to experience heavy rain but could escape the storms.
Rock slides, bridge closures and even a yawning sinkhole in a residential Coffs Harbour street have been caused by the extreme weather over the past few days.
The deluge has also prompted widespread flooding around the northern rivers, with evacuation orders still in place in Condong and Tumbulgum, north of Murwillumbah. The orders were issued after the Tweed River burst its banks near Tumbulgum on Tuesday with minor to moderate flooding in the area.
An SES spokesperson said teams were assessing infrastructure in the area and the orders wouldn’t be lifted until they gave the all-clear. Evacuation warnings were also in place for South Murwillumbah and North Macksville.
Flood warnings for the Tweed, Hastings, Nambucca and Camden Haven rivers have been downgraded after their peaks but there is still a risk of flooding on other rivers down the coast.
The Macleay River is expected to peak in Kempsey about 6pm on Wednesday, with the SES anticipating that low-lying areas, roads and bridges will be hit. Flood waters in Grafton, Ulmarra and Maclean along the Clarence River were expected to peak with the high tide about midday.
Inflows from the Orara River combined with a high tide are expected to cause renewed flooding in the three towns on Thursday morning. The Orara River peaked in Glenreagh at a moderate flood level.
Downstream, Coutts Crossing is expected to experience moderate flooding with the river forecast to peak near 10.5 metres on Wednesday evening. Areas around Coutts Crossing may become inundated and isolated, the SES has warned.
Further south, minor flooding is still occurring in Bellingen and Thora but river levels are falling.
With flood water flowing in from the Wilsons River, Coraki at the confluence of the Richmond River was expected to flood after midday. Bungawalbin Junction and Woodburn were also expected to flood.
A number of roads across the affected regions have been closed and authorities are urging drivers to be careful.
The SES attended more than 300 jobs overnight and has performed more than 30 flood rescues since the extreme weather began at the weekend. Between Saturday and Wednesday the SES has attended more than 1,900 jobs.
“The majority of those jobs are fixing leaking roofs and damage due to heavy rainfall or trees down due to strong winds and we’re also getting requests for sandbags,” an SES spokeswoman said.
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