Regional Australian towns prepare for further flooding


A regional city in Australia’s New South Wales state braces for more rain and flooding after a major river breaches its banks, inundating rural areas and causing flood relief.

State Emergency Services said water reached five low-lying homes in Gunnedah, in the northwestern state, on Sunday when the Namoi River reached a height of just over 8 meters.

Massive flooding occurred downstream in Weewah, even though levees kept water from flowing into the town.

Farmers in the area are likely to be cut off due to wet and unsealed roads, and emergency services are waiting to deliver supplies.

Minor flooding hit Wellington and Naromaine along the Macquarie Wambule River, forcing the evacuation of the Dubbo caravan park on Friday.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a flood warning for the river and the peak is expected to reach Warren on Monday night.

The Barrendon Dam on the river near Wellington was 132% and sank to less than 4% during the height of the drought.

SES spokesman Greg Nash said early forecasts of up to 40mm of rain across the state from Tuesday evening have led to more flood warnings being issued.

“Rivers and streams are rising rapidly because they are already saturated,” Nash told AAP.

“Anyone living around a river or stream system or catchment area should be vigilant, aware of the situation and kept up to date with forecasts.

“We really hope that people will have an evacuation plan and be prepared.”

Since 9th September, there have been 37 flood relief operations in western NSW, most involving people driving through flood waters.

“It’s very dangerous,” said Nash.

“Just because you drive on the road for your daily run to school or work doesn’t mean it’s safe to drive again.

“Floods can damage roads, expose utilities and pipes, and in some cases can introduce sewage into the water.

“When people come across a flood, they should stop, turn around, and find another way.”

Sarah O’Keeffe of the Rotary Club of Gunnedah said residents gathered Sunday morning to help farmers move their sheep to safer locations.

“People were walking in the water trying to save the sheep,” O’Keeffe said.

“If you check all your neighbors, the same thing happens in town.”

She said some residents had just finished repairs to their homes and businesses after November’s floods and were concerned about the expected rain.

“There’s this feeling of ‘Let’s do it again,'” she said.

“I think everyone in the low-rise house has sandbags ready for this week.

“There is nothing more you can do.”

AAP

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Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.