Evacuations in North NSW, Rain Hits Sydney

By AAP
March 19, 2021 Updated: March 19, 2021

A “potentially life-threatening” downpour that has flooded rivers and triggered evacuations along the New South Wales (NSW) coast has made its way to Sydney.

Rain has plagued the city for most of the week, but the deluge arriving on Saturday will be on another level, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said.

“We might see quite significant flash flooding and we’ve got a flood watch current for both the Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers,” bureau flood operations manager Justin Robinson said. “We’re likely to see a spill from Warragamba Dam and that will then impact those communities downstream.”

BoM issued a severe weather warning on Saturday morning covering an area from the mid-north coast to the far south coast of NSW as well as Canberra.

The bureau warned of intense rainfall “potentially leading to life-threatening flash flooding” and damaging winds averaging 60-70km/h with gusts exceeding 90km/h.

It said strong winds may generate damaging surf, with significant wave heights of 5 metres in the surf zone bringing potential for coastal erosion.

While the rain will be “substantially heavier” than what Sydney copped earlier this week, it will not be of the same intensity that hit the mid-north coast on Thursday and Friday.

SES crews undertook at least 57 flood rescues and responded to more than 1300 calls for help, as a dozen rivers along the NSW coast flooded.

State Emergency Operations Controller, Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys, has appealed for the public to not become complacent.

“Members of the public in the flood-affected areas need to heed the warnings and advice of the NSW State Emergency Service and all emergency services,” he said.

“Our message is clear—do not put your life or that of emergency service personnel in danger. Floodwater is extremely dangerous as it can have fast-moving undercurrents that can wash people and vehicles away.

“Everyone should always remember to never drive, ride or walk through floodwater,” he said.

Major flooding is occurring along the Hastings River at Kindee Bridge, Wauchope and Settlement Point.

The Hastings River at Kindee Bridge peaked at 12.1m about 11 p.m. on Friday and is currently at 9.87m and falling with major flooding.

The Hastings River at Wauchope is currently at 8.5m and near its peak with major flooding.

The Hastings River at Settlement Point is likely to peak near 2.1m about 10 a.m. on Saturday with major flooding.

Major flooding also hit Macksville and Bowraville overnight.

Those living in low-lying areas of Port Macquarie were forced to evacuate on Friday, with a “significant” number of properties set to be inundated.

Nearby areas of North Haven, Dunbogan, Camden Head, Laurieton were also ordered to leave, as well as those living in Kempsey and along the lower Macleay River.

While the worst of the system has passed, emergency services have warned road and surf conditions will remain dangerous and are telling motorists and boaties to stay home.

The deluge is set to continue well into next week and could deliver the heaviest rainfall since February 2020, when Greater Sydney was hit.

By Tiffanie Turnbull