Thousands of western Sydney residents are evacuating their homes as bursting river banks flood houses to roofs with worse to come.
Residents in parts of Penrith, Mulgoa and Jamisontown were told to evacuate on Sunday, and urged to stay with friends and family outside the flood zone.
An emergency evacuation centre has also been set up in Sydney’s northwest at the Castle Hill RSL on 77 Castle St.
A flooded park in Penrith on Sunday pictured as residents were warned to evacuate
Cyclists caught in a flooded park in Penrith, Sydney, on the banks of the Nepean River as waters rapidly rose on Sunday. Authorities are warning people not to enter floodwaters
Families whose homes and possessions are severely damaged will be given immediate cash payments of $1,000 per adult and $400 per child.
The NSW State Emergency Service issued a notice at 3.30pm to people in west Penrith to evacuate towards Emu Plains as water was entering properties – giving them an hour to get out before 4.30pm Sunday.
‘Once floodwater reaches 7.96m the Great Western Highway Evacuation Route will be cut,’ the SES said on its website.
‘If you remain in the area after 4.30pm you may be trapped without power, water and other essential services and it may be too dangerous to rescue you.’
Water spills from Warragamba Dam which holds Sydney’s water supply on Sunday
Residents of west Jamisontown and the low lying parts of Regentville in Mulgoa have been told to leave before 9pm Sunday and to store their personal possessions in a safe place.
Those in west Jamisontown have been told to use the Great Western Highway to evacuate as the route will be cut once flood water reaches 10.6m.
Those between the Mulgoa Creek and the Nepean River in Regentville were told to use the Mulgoa Road evacuation route.
‘Once floodwater crosses Martin Street residents between Mulgoa Creek and the Nepean River will become trapped and cut off from evacuation,’ the SES said.
A one-off payment of $1000 per adult and $400 per child is to be made immediately available for victims who have suffered injuries or damage to their homes due to the heavy rains currently flooding parts of NSW.
A petrol station at Windsor in Sydney’s northwest on Sunday
A sign peeps over a park in Penrith, Sydney as the Nepean River burst its banks on Sunday
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday announced the activation of the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance for 18 NSW local government areas.
Under the AGDRP, eligible residents caught up in the storms and floods can apply for a one-off payment of $1,000 for adults and $400 for children.
Those who have lost their livelihoods can also now get a short-term income payment through the DRA for up to 13 weeks.
Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said the disaster package would help people who had suffered significant loss.
Floodwaters near Warragamba Dam, which holds Sydney’s water supply on Sunday
‘Our first concern is for the safety and needs of those directly affected, particularly those whose homes have been inundated by floodwaters,’ he said in a statement.
‘By making these payments available to the affected residents, the Australian government will ensure that those who have lost or sustained damage to their homes or lost their livelihoods as a result of the floods will have the additional assistance they need.’
In a social media video on Sunday, the prime minister advised flood-impacted residents to claim the relief payments by calling Services Australia on 180 22 66.
‘It can be processed over the phone, you just need to provide your details and explain your circumstances to them, and we can arrange those payments to you as quickly as possible,’ Mr Morrison said.
The package has initially been extended to Armidale, Bellingen, Central Coast, Cessnock City, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Dungog, Hawkesbury, Kempsey, Lake Macquarie, Maitland City, Mid-Coast, Nambucca Valley, Newcastle City, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Penrith, Port Stephens and Tenterfield.
A flooded street in Pitt Town, Hawkesbury region 65km north west of Sydney on Saturday
More LGAs will be added to the list in consultation with the NSW government, while mutual obligation requirements for job seeker’s in the 18 regions have been lifted from March 19 until April 6.
The prime minister has been in contact with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Sunday to offer the support of the Australian Defence Force.
Mr Morrison acknowledged the need for a ‘big clean-up operation’ on the other side of the floods, the worst to hit metropolitan Sydney in 50 years and the Mid-North Coast in a century.
But he indicated the recovery effort was a problem for another day, urging people to stay safe and listen to authorities.
‘They trained for this, they prepare for this, and they’re there to help you right now,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘I wish you every safety in these very trying times.’