Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thousands Evacuated as North New South Wales facing worst floods in 35 years

Thousands of residents in northern NSW are bunkered down in evacuation centres, as the worst floods in over 35 years hit the region.

Across NSW, more than 12,000 people were isolated by rising floodwaters on Thursday as heavy rainfall lashed the state, sparking 13 flood warnings.

Evacuation operations continued in and around Moree late on Thursday afternoon, with about 2300 residents rushing to sandbag their homes and leave before darkness fell.

Helicopters descended on nearby Pallamallawa to airlift some of its 600 flood-stricken residents to safety, with the Gwydir river expected to peak there at 6pm (AEDT).

NSW SES deputy commissioner of operations Steven Pearce said the Pallamallawa operation was challenging. "But we are very confident we will get everyone to safety," he told AAP.

At Moree, both the Mehi and Gwydir rivers were predicted to peak on Friday morning, matching or exceeding the 10.6m levels reached in the February 1976 flood.

"We're looking at water up to the knees (in some areas)," Moree Mayor Katrina Humphries said in a statement urging affected residents to leave their homes. Read More