Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Residents brace for flood peaks, New South Wales, Australia - 15th June 2011

Residents in several flood-hit New South Wales towns are anxiously watching swollen rivers expected to peak overnight.

Nearly 2,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and the State Emergency Service (SES) says at least 10,000 people are isolated by floodwaters.

The State Government says the floods have caused millions of dollars worth of damage already, and it has declared disaster areas in the worst-hit places.

The wild weather buffeting the region is gradually moving south, with the focus now on the Port Macquarie and Manning areas.

SES spokeswoman Stefanie Heard says the main concern overnight is the Taree area, where residents have also been ordered to evacuate from low-lying areas around Taree and Wingham.

"The BOM has predicted a flood level of around 4.3 metres for the Taree Bridge Gorge at around 3am this morning," she said.

The SES says the Manning River is likely to flood homes and businesses when it peaks there.

Ms Heard says the torrential rain causing the flooding is expected to ease, but it will still be a nervous wait for many residents.

"Heavy rain is still possible for the Hunter and the mid-north coast tonight and with the rain easing tomorrow," she said.

Early Wednesday a man was killed when his car was crushed by a tree brought down by the heavy weather at Hillville, south-west of Taree.

Officials have also urged motorists not to drive through floodwaters after rescuing three people when their car was swept from a roadway at nearby Wherrol Flat.

Oxley SES spokesman Peter Floyd says the Hastings River at Port Macquarie's Settlement Point is expected to rise with Wednesday night's high tide and local residents there have also been ordered to evacuate.

"With the flood peak tonight, there could be some inundation depending how high it goes, but everybody is aware of that and we will be watching that very carefully," he said.

"We do have approximately 10,000 people isolated because of the floodwaters so we may get some resupply issues in the coming days." Read More