Sunny skies and warmer temperatures are forecast for Wednesday as the state’s once-in-50-year rains end – but they will bring no relief to hundreds of devastated flood-stricken areas.
Rains were forecast to ease from Tuesday morning and stop altogether in most parts of New South Wales by late on Tuesday, but many areas still copped a huge 100mm downpour.
Luckily for millions of sun-starved Australians, temperatures are predicted to hit 29C in Sydney and even top 30C further north from Coffs Harbour through to 33C at Grafton, with most towns right across NSW expected to see at least some sunshine.
Flooding at Windsor, in Sydney’s west, where the flooding is expected to worsen
After calamitous rain and flooding, the temperatures are set to rocket towards 30 from the NSW mid-north coast – which remains underwater, along with much of Sydney. Sydney’s east and south though could see a return to beach weather
Even flood-ravaged Kempsey – one of the worst affected towns by the flooding – is forecast to hit 31C and sunshine on Wednesday.
‘It is almost impossible to believe, but we will see blue skies and sunshine just later this afternoon in Western Sydney and on the Mid North Coast,’ said the Bureau of Meteorology’s Agata Imielska.
‘It is very important to remember that even though we will have that blue sky and sunshine returning, flooding will continue, and the flood risk will continue.’
The BoM warning comes as the NSW State Emergency Services continued to issue new flood alerts and warnings on Tuesday afternoon, including major flood warnings along the Hawkesbury River at North Richmond, Windsor and Downstream, and on the Colo River; for the Orara River at Coutts Crossing; the Upper Macintyre River at Ashford and for the Clarence River at Grafton.
‘Major flooding will continue during Tuesday and into Wednesday at North Richmond and Windsor,’ the NSW SES warned.
The Hawkesbury River is expected to peak on Tuesday morning. Pictured are Windsor residents rowing to safety after being cut off by floodwaters
Much of the NSW mid north coast remains flooded. Pictured is the town of Kempsey underwater on Monday
An SES spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia the weather overhead has little impact on flood waters, because of the massive scale of the waters moving gradually thorough the state’s river systems.
‘The soil cannot take any more water so the water needs to travel somewhere,’ she said.
‘In the case of the Hawkesbury-Nepean, it will travel out to sea, which is why we are now starting to see evacuation warnings now for places like Wiseman’s Ferry – because the water is starting to travel down that catchment.’
Ten million Australians are under severe weather warnings as the worst flooding to hit NSW in 50 years devastates low-lying areas, closes hundreds of schools and has forced a further round of evacuations on Tuesday.
Strong rains continued into Tuesday, with the Bureau of Meteorology warning of a further 300mm deluge to hit affected areas before the weather system finally eases in the evening in NSW and on Wednesday morning in Queensland.
The NSW State Emergency Service has responded to 9,700 calls for help across the state’s eastern coast and conducted 870 flood rescues.
Already, 34 NSW councils have declared natural disaster zones, with the powerful storm that lashed the state’s north coast and western Sydney now spreading to the Illawarra region on the south coast, where 100-200mm of rain were forecast across the region on Tuesday, peaking at 300mm in some parts.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said locals affected by the catastrophic weather event were at ‘breaking point’. Pictured: McGraths Hill, north west of Sydney
Northwest of Sydney, around 200 residents were ordered to evacuate homes immediately on Tuesday morning as major flooding occurred along the Colo River in the Hawkesbury region.
‘From 8am … you should be ready to be evacuated from your home via helicopter or boat,’ the SES said.
‘If you do not leave when asked to it will be too dangerous to stay and you may be trapped without power, water and other essential services by 8am.’
On the Hawkesbury River another evacuation order was issued for low lying properties in North Richmond, Agnes Banks and Windsor amid major flooding.
‘Flooding may remain at these levels for the next few days based on forecast rainfall,’ the SES said.
The weather trough causing the havoc is due to collide with another system coming in from the southwest, meaning Sydney and the Mid-North Coast could cop another 100mm in the next day or so, and a season’s worth of rain is possible in the west.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said locals affected by the catastrophic weather were exasperated, as the state was hit by another disaster, following on from the 2019 bushfires and then the 2020 Covid epidemic.
‘When you have been through three or four incidents that are life-changing on top of each other, it can make you feel like you are at breaking point,’ the Premier said.
The Insurance Council of Australia said there had been more than 9500 claims lodged over the flooding, and many more were expected.
The SES on Tuesday morning reported crews attending 9700 calls for help across NSW, including 870 flood rescues. Pictured: Port Macquarie
In the past 24 hours, nearly 1,400 people called the State Emergency Services for help
‘It’s too early to understand the extent of the damage to property in affected areas and to estimate the insurance damage bill,’ chief executive Andrew Hall said.
The flood crisis could potentially wind up being more expensive for insurers than the 2019/20 bushfires.
‘Given the magnitude of the floods and the homes and personal property impacted, I wouldn’t be surprised to see these claims will exceed what was paid out for the bushfires,’ Morningstar insurance analyst Nathan Zaia told The Australian.
The impact was also being felt north of the border, where police rushed to evacuate residents from two adjacent Gold Coast streets after major landslips.
The Dreamworld theme park was closed, as the Gold Coast, Brisbane, and the Sunshine Coast went on high alert, extending to communities as far west as Birdsville.
Low-lying homes on the Gold Coast areas Tallai and Carrara have been inundated, and a flood watch was put in place for a wide band of southern Queensland stretching from the South Australian border to the southeast coast.
The SES on Tuesday morning reported crews attending 9700 calls for help across NSW, including 870 flood rescues. Pictured: a flooded home near Windsor
Falls of 50-70mm are likely across the entire area, but there are likely to be isolated falls of 100-150mm in some areas, which will be compounded by bursts of storm activity.
Parts of the Gold Coast recorded falls in excess of 200mm in the 24 hours to 9am on Monday, including 263mm at North Tambourine, in the Gold Coast hinterland.
Brisbane city and surrounding suburbs also saw widespread falls of 100mm. Beachmere, north of Brisbane, recorded 208mm.
The SES on Tuesday morning reported crews attending 9700 calls for help across NSW, including 870 flood rescues.
A Fire and Rescue NSW crew was surprised by snakes jumping on to their life raft as they waded 1km in the darkness to reach a family of two adults and four children stranded at a house isolated by floodwater in Sancrox near Port Macquarie.
Some locations have experienced almost a metre of rain in a week, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
‘I’ve been a flood forecaster in the bureau for 20 years and this is probably the worst flooding that I’ve experienced and I’ve had to forecast,’ Bureau of Meteorology flood manager Justin Robinson said.
Weather forecasters say the record-breaking floods in many of the state are amongst the worst they’ve seen – and there’s more torrential rain to come. Pictured: A swollen Coomera River is seen at Oxenford Weir on the Gold Coast
Some locations have experienced almost a metre of rain in a week, the Bureau of Meteorology said. Floodwaters are seen near Kempsey, Northern NSW on Monday
Roads have been cut off, hundreds of homes inundated and more than 200 schools shut. Pictured: Floodwaters are seen near Kempsey, Northern NSW
Floodwaters are seen near Kempsey, northern NSW. Thousands of people have been evacuated on the NSW Mid-North Coast and western Sydney, as swollen rivers flood towns and torrential rain continues to lash much of the state’s east coast
Every mainland state and territory except Western Australia is subject to flood and weather warnings with the Australian Defence Force put on emergency standby.
Upstate communities in NSW are already facing the worst flooding conditions since 1929 and those along the Hawkesbury River are confronting the worst flooding since 1961, rising to 13m on Monday night to prompt further evacuations.
Further rain on Tuesday could see the river match its 1961 peak height of 14.95m.
A number of towns across the state have been isolated for days, some without fresh water or power.
Roads have been cut off by flooding or closed, hundreds of homes inundated and more than 200 schools shut.
‘We’re not through the worst of it potentially and that’s why we need to brace ourselves,’ Ms Berejiklian said on Monday.
‘We have no illusions about how difficult the next few weeks and months will be.’
Moderate flooding is occurring along the Macleay River at Kempsey and Smithtown where it has peaked, but the BOM is warning of further rises on Tuesday.
Major flooding is occurring at Wollombi in the Hunter Valley, while moderate flooding is still plaguing Taree and Gloucester.
Inland, the Macquarie River has peaked at Bathurst, with minor flooding occurring.
Flooded residential area near Windsor as torrential downpours lashed Australia’s east forcing thousands to flee the worst flooding in decades
The flooded Nepean River at Trench Reserve at Penrith in Sydney is turned into a raging torrent threatening to be even higher than the 1961 floods
NSW Fire and Rescue teams are seen assisting during the NSW floods, getting children to safety across raging floodwaters
Families in the 34 declared NSW disaster zones whose homes and possessions are severely damaged will be given immediate cash payments of $1,000 per adult and $400 per child.
The widespread devastation in the Hawkesbury has also caused one of main roads out of Sydney to close indefinitely due to a landslide.
Many motorists were stranded after the Bells Line of Road which links Richmond to the in the Blue Mountains closed in both directions due to extensive damage on Monday afternoon.
‘Engineers have determined that the latest landslide has damaged the road to such an extent that there is a high risk of the whole mountainside and roadway collapsing into the gorge below,’ a Bowen Mountain community Facebook group posted.
Two young people were spotted body boarding in Nepean River just hours after floodwaters rose so high they engulfed much of the surrounding parklands and forced nearby residents to flee their homes
‘The excessive rain has eroded the structural integrity underneath the road, causing parts of the road to fall into the valley. Many motorists are stuck with no way of getting home.’
Elsewhere in the Hawkesbury, a heavily pregnant woman was airlifted to hospital to give birth after the ambulance’s route to the hospital was cut off by flooding.
She was flown via CareFlight to Nepean Hospital in a stable condition.
Others took advantage of the extraordinary conditions to frolic in the water.
Two young people were spotted body boarding in Nepean River.
A young man with a bright red mullet and wearing board shorts carved a slide out of mud and water before throwing himself into the fast running river.
He was joined by a female companion as they took turns slipping down the mud ramp.
The bride-to-be Kate Fotheringham wasn’t going to let the floods stop her wedding after she was rescused from the other side of this bridge be helicopter near Port Macquarie
Residents of Riverstone are seen as their properties are submerged in rising floods and show great resilience as the situation turns worse today. Many residents have evacuated to higher ground, including show dog breeders and kids playing in puddles
Dogs in carriers are transported to safety by SES personnel in inflatable boats in western Sydney on Monday
Locals gathered to observe them as they repeatedly dived headfirst into the water, one labelling them ‘morons’ as he ushered his children past them.
‘Who’d swim in there?’ another asked. ‘It’s a bloody mud swamp at the moment.’
The duo seemed unfazed by the gathering crowds, but later moved further down the river after appearing to find a steeper slope.
There has been some progress in alleviating flooding, with residents previously evacuated from the western part of Jamisontown and Penrith, and the northern end of Mulgoa being given the all-clear to return home.
The Australian Defence Force will provide two search and rescue helicopters operating out of the NSW south coast for 24 hour operations.
‘The search and rescue choppers will be able to work through night and day and supporting personnel will be made available to make this happen,’ emergency management minister David Littleproud said.
‘Both will have the capability to winch and recover in the dangerous flood areas.
‘They will operate out of Nowra and Bega on the New South Wales south coast.’
Pest experts warned that spiders – and snakes – would be on the move across rain-stricken areas as they search for dry conditions, so residents were warned to be on the lookout for them in homes.
A kangaroo was spotted swimming through a flooded backyard in Emu Heights near Penrith
NSW Government flood relief: call Disaster Customer Care Service on 13 77 88
NSW road closures: call 132 701 or visit http://livetraffic.com
Sydney road closures: follow @LiveTrafficSyd on Twitter
Power updates: follow @Ausgrid on Twitter in business hours. Report and check power outages at http://ausgrid.com.au/poweroutages
Flood warnings: follow @BOM_NSW on Twitter or go to: www.bom.gov.au/nsw/warnings/
Schools closures: see the NSW Education Department website here.
NSW DISASTER HELP
The NSW Government issued 34 Natural Disaster Declarations over the weekend so immediate support reaches NSW flood victims.
Disaster declarations have been issued for the following Local Government Areas:
Armidale, Bellingen, Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Canterbury Bankstown, Central Coast, Cessnock City, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour City, Cumberland, Dungog, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Hornsby, Inner West, Kempsey, Ku-ring-gai, Lake Macquarie, Liverpool, Maitland City, Mid-Coast, Nambucca Valley, Newcastle City, Northern Beaches, Parramatta, Penrith, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Port Stephens, Sutherland, Tenterfield Blacktown, The Hills and Wollondilly.
NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott announced disaster assistance on Sunday including:
– Help for those whose homes and belongings are damaged
– Support for local councils to clean up and repair public assets
– Loans with cheaper interest rates for small businesses, farmers and non-profit organisations
– freight subsidies for farmers
– grants for non-profit organisations
For information call Disaster Customer Care Service on 13 77 88