Australia

NSW flood disaster payments available from Thursday as rain moves north

Anthony Albanese has announced disaster recovery payments will be available for those impacted by NSW floods from Thursday, saying the government wanted to make support available “as soon as possible”.
“That will be $1,000 for every eligible adult who has been impacted here … $400 for every child will be available across the 23 local government areas that have been impacted so far,” he told ABC News Breakfast on Wednesday morning.

“We know this is having a real impact on people. We want to make sure the supports are available as soon as possible.”

The prime minister announced the payments ahead of a visit to flood-affected areas with NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet.
Mr Albanese said the payments would be separate from the initial assistance flagged earlier in the week.
He also confirmed Australian Defence Force (ADF) assistance would be increased, with a third helicopter being made available along with 250 ADF personnel.

Mr Albanese praised the NSW premier for his work throughout the crisis, saying he was pleased the federal government and state government were working together.

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“People have conflict fatigue. They don’t want to see governments arguing,” he said.
“Premier Perrottet has been extremely responsible with the way he has acted, I’m very pleased that my government … have worked closely in partnership. That’s what people want.”

“People want governments to work together in the interests of the population, not to engage in politics.”

Crisis far from over, premier says

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet also addressed media on Wednesday morning, and reminded residents to follow evacuation orders in the affected areas.
“The evacuation orders are not in place for the sake of it; those evacuation orders are there to keep you and your family safe,” he said.
“If there is an evacuation in place in your area, please get ready to evacuate … please don’t drive through floodwaters; time and again, we see people drive through floodwaters.”
Mr Perrottet said there were currently 108 evacuation orders in place and 56 evacuation warnings, with 11 evacuation centres open across the state.

The premier said the orders were affecting around 85,000 people across NSW, up from 50,000 on Tuesday.

Two men facing away from camera wade through floodwaters toward house.

NSW residents are bracing for more heavy rain and flooding as dangerous downpours continue throughout the day. Source: AAP / JEREMY PIPER/AAPIMAGE

He said the government was “completely focused” on keeping people safe and providing support.

“There’s a lot of anguish and despair. But our commitment from a state level and being here with the Commonwealth government today is that we’ll be with you every step of the way,” he said.
“We know there’s been challenges. We know it’s been an incredibly tough two years, but we will get through this just like we’ve got through every one of these natural disasters in the past”.
The premier said there had been around 1,000 requests for assistance since 8pm Tuesday, 6,000 requests for assistance over the course of the flood event, and 21 flood rescues overnight.

It’s the fourth time in as little as 18 months that some parts of NSW have been hit with flooding. However, the government has yet to declare the natural disaster a “national emergency”.

NSW flood threat remains as rain moves north

Mr Albanese said such a disaster declaration was being considered.
“We take advice on those issues appropriately and we will continue to take advice,” Mr Albanese said on Tuesday.

Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt said the declaration had not been made due to the disaster not having reached a high enough threshold.

Defence forces prepare sand bags for residents.

Members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) prepare sandbags for residents in Windsor, northwest of Sydney. Source: AAP / BIANCA DE MARCHI

Parts of NSW’s Mid-North Coast are expected to be hit by the same weather system on Wednesday that led to the flooding in Sydney.

The heavy rain that has been pounding areas around Sydney has shifted towards the Central Coast and Hunter Valley, with swollen rivers flooding communities and leaving a trail of destruction.
A flood watch has been issued for the Mid-North Coast as the weather system shifts north. Rain is easing in Sydney and the Illawarra but the flooding remains.

SES deputy commissioner Ashley Sullivan says the danger for flooded communities continues and river levels will stay high for some time, prompting fears of landslips.

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“This event is certainly still escalating and unfolding,” he told ABC TV on Wednesday.
Overnight, the SES received about 1,200 requests for help as the Hunter region and Central Coast copped a drenching, with 55 of those calls for flood rescues as people continue to drive into rising waters.
Twelve evacuation centres are open to support people who have been forced to flee. On top of that, 27,000 people have been told to prepare to leave under 56 further evacuation warnings.
“We are asking them to prepare themselves, and their family and their property, in case they do need to evacuate and head to those evacuation centres or their friends and family for safe refuge,” Mr Sullivan said.

Authorities remain focused on the Hawkesbury-Nepean where the river levels reached heights not seen for decades.

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But the danger is increasing for the Central Coast, Hunter Valley and Mid-North Coast where flash flooding is underway as river levels rise around Coffs Harbour and Taree.
“There’s still a few days to go and I suspect these flood warnings will remain in place through the weekend and in some places into early next week,” Mr Sullivan said.
The SES has 1,000 volunteers supporting isolated communities by dropping supplies or helping people evacuate, with their efforts backed up by an additional 100 ADF personnel who are arriving on Wednesday, alongside emergency workers from interstate.
Rains over Sydney have eased but roads remain cut off, debris is floating in floodwaters and businesses are completely submerged.

Some properties have been isolated for days and infrastructure such as roads, power, water, and telecommunications are damaged.

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