Latest Sydney deluge pushes thousands out of their homes
More than 30,000 people in NSW have been told to evacuate or prepare to leave their homes as heavy rain causes widespread flooding across Greater Sydney, including the Hawkesbury-Nepean and in the Illawarra.
An abandoned car in floodwaters in Lansvale in Western Sydney. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)
NSW SES chief superintendent Ashley Sullivan says about 32,000 people are now subject to an evacuation order or warning.
“As the rain hasn’t finished falling we don’t know how wide that is going to extend to,” he told ABC TV on Monday.
People are being told to reconsider school holiday travel after a flood warning was issued for the Shoalhaven River at Nowra and Terara on the South Coast with further rain forecast that could mean prolonged flooding.
“If you don’t need to leave home, please, you know, bunker down at home if it’s safe to do so,” Sullivan said.
Warragamba Dam continues to spill after overtopping earlier than expected on Sunday, with hundreds of gigalitres of water adding to the already swollen Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers.
The rivers have exceeded major flood levels at North Richmond, Windsor, Wallacia and Menangle.
The SES responded to more than 400 requests for help overnight and performed about 20 flood rescues, and those numbers are expected to increase.
Almost 70 evacuation orders are in place mostly in the Hawkesbury-Nepean area and another 66 communities are on standby, preparing to leave.
People living in Camden in Sydney’s southwest have been hit with flooding for the fourth time this year.
Camden Council deputy mayor Paul Farrow told Sky News the community was heartbroken and flood fatigued.
“It’s the worst case of deja vu you could possibly imagine,” he said.
But the community still has each other.
“When you go around town people are helping each other, spirits are pretty high,” Farrow said.
“We’re becoming used to it unfortunately.”
Thousands have already left their homes as the Hawkesbury, Nepean and Colo rivers flood.
The Transport Management Centre has advised against non-essential travel with several roads closed by floodwaters, landslips and fallen trees.
Transport for NSW warned of delays and gaps in services on public transport because of the chaotic weather.
North Richmond is once again cut off by floodwaters, with river levels exceeding that reached in March (15.92m), with further rises possible.
There is moderate flooding at Windsor and the bridge is closed, with the waters expected to rise further.
The SES is asking people to promptly heed evacuation orders and refrain from driving into flood waters.
Sullivan said people had been rescued from cars and homes in floodwaters.
Evacuation centres have been set up across western Sydney at Canley Vale, Narellan, Gymea, Richmond, North Richmond and Castle Hill.
The rain could ease during the afternoon and evening however six-hourly rainfall totals between 60mm to 100mm are possible at locations in Sydney and the Illawarra before then.
Winds have gradually eased overnight after gale force warnings were issued on Sunday.
Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke acknowledged people were flood weary but urged them not to be complacent and evacuate when required.
“We want people to put their own safety and their loved ones as their top priority … second to that is the lives and safety of our emergency services personnel and volunteers,” she told Sydney radio 2GB on Monday.
The SES was joined by 100 Australian Defence Force members on Sunday to help with sandbagging and doorknocking communities to warn of flood threats focusing on the Hawkesbury-Nepean area.
A man died while kayaking in Sydney Harbour near Canada Bay on Sunday, but police are still investigating and have not linked the incident to the weather.