NSW: Evacuations, Disaster Declared

In Australasia, Floods & Storms, News Headlines

Dozens of people are being evacuated while thousands more are preparing to go, as floodwaters continue to rise across the central and north-west of New South Wales.

Some 23 people in the central western town of Eugowra are being ordered to move out of their homes.

In the south-west, residents of Wagga Wagga were briefed on evacuation procedures as it joined a growing list of NSW population centres on alert amid rising flood levels.

The State Emergency Service (SES) held the public meeting on Friday night and told residents they could be evacuated over the weekend as the Murrumbidgee River continues to rise.

“We worked out that 70,000 Olympic swimming pools a day [are being released from the dam],” an SES spokesman said.

“Wagga is a concern for us on Sunday morning because there is still uncertainty over how much higher the river will rise.”

Areas along the banks of the Murrumbidgee have already been evacuated, with two caravan parks in the nearby town of Gundagai cleared as flood waters deluged the area.

North-west of the state, the Macquarie River is also heading towards a major flood peak level around Warren.

Phil Campbell from the SES says Pillaga and areas around Wee Waa have been isolated, with Coonamble also cause for concern.

“There’s about two 2,750 people there that are currently isolated. Many of those people are well prepared as rural property owners are for isolation,” he said.

“The main concern for us going forward is going to be the prospect of further heavy rain in western NSW from the middle of the week.”

Mr Campbell says about 1,000 of those people are on high alert and may also need to be evacuated.

Disaster zone

Disaster zones were declared on Friday around Mudgee, Weddin, Wellington, Warrumbungle, Cootamundra, Coonamble, Harden and Young shires, all of which have sustained significant damage from heavy rain.

NSW Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan says millions of dollars worth of damage has been caused by flooding, adding that the disaster zones could be extended if there are more heavy downpours.

“Mid-Western Regional Council, based in Mudgee, has estimated that it has sustained more than $12 million in damage to roads, causeways, culverts, drains, sports fields, parks, water and sewerage infrastructure and public buildings,” Mr Whan said.

“The council’s clean-up bill to remove debris is estimated at another $1 million.

“Weddin and Young shires also have suffered damage to infrastructure, particularly roads, after sustained recent rains. Likewise, Wellington and Warrumbungle shires experienced damage to roads, bridges and culverts.”

Meanwhile, Industry and Investment NSW estimates up to $500 million has been wiped off the value of the NSW winter crop because of the rain.

Farmers had been expecting a bumper crop following good conditions in the spring. But the values have now dropped significantly as the rain continued to deluge regional centres into summer.

“This is simply devastating to farmers who after 10 years of drought will now see one-sixth of their crop lost to rain,” Mr Whan added.

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