Australia

Thousands told to evacuate, hundreds of requests for help as floods devastate NSW

Thousands of people in NSW have been told to evacuate or prepare to leave as heavy rain continues to feed widespread flooding across Greater Sydney, including the Hawkesbury-Nepean and in the Illawarra.
The Bureau of Meteorology says the heavy rain may lead to flash flooding in the Illawarra, Blue Mountains, Sydney Metropolitan and parts of Hunter and Central Coast districts on Monday.
The State Emergency Service responded to more early 400 requests for help overnight and performed about 20 flood rescues, with that number expected to increase as people are asked to avoid driving if possible.
Almost 70 evacuation orders are in place mostly in the Hawkesbury-Nepean area and another 66 communities are on standby to leave.
Thousands have already left their homes as the Hawkesbury, Nepean and Colo rivers flood.

SES spokesman Ashely Sullivan is urging people to stay off the roads.

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“I understand it’s school holidays but really have a look at your travel plans,” he told ABC TV on Monday.
“If you don’t need to leave home, please, you know, bunker down at home if it’s safe to do so.
“We’ve already seen the rivers rise much quicker than what they would normally rise, because of the levels of saturation in the ground,” he said.
“Things are happening quicker, rivers are rising quicker, evacuation orders and warnings are happening quicker and more frequent than what we did expect,” he said.
Strong winds are prompting concerns trees will be blown down due to the already saturated ground.
“It won’t take a strong wind at all to start blowing them over,” he said.
North Richmond is once again cut off by floodwaters, with river levels exceeding that reached in March (15.92 metres), with further rises possible on Monday morning.

There is moderate flood in at Windsor and the bridge is closed, with major flooding expected.

The SES is asking people to promptly heed evacuation orders and refrain from driving into flood waters.
Mr Sullivan said people were being rescued from cars that had been driven into floodwaters and homes when people had stayed too long.
Numerous evacuation centres have been set up across western Sydney.

A combination of heavy rainfall and rapid dam spillages is causing rivers to rise at an alarming rate, shattering previous records.

But the rain across the Sydney Metropolitan and Illawarra districts could start to ease during the afternoon and evening.
Six-hourly rainfall totals between 60mm to 100mm are possible.
Winds have gradually eased overnight after gale force warnings were issued on Sunday.
Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke urged people to avoid risks and evacuate when required.
“We want people to put their own safety and their loves 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.
Meanwhile, a man has 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.
There are evacuation orders in place in the following areas:
* Agnes Banks, Angus, Gronos Point, Plough and Harrow Dam near Abbotsbury and Cecil Hills, Pleasure Point, Bents Basin, Wallacia, Camden, Woronora, Chipping Norton, Georges Hall, Lansvale, Moorebank, Warwick Farm, Leets Vale, Ebenezer, Pitt Town, Pitt Town Bottoms, North Richmond, Sackville, Cattai, Cornwallis, Richmond Lowlands, South Windsor, Bligh Park, Freemans Reach, Portland and Cumberland Reach.
There are evacuation warnings in place in the following areas:
* East Hills, Picnic Point, Penrith, Emu Plains, Mulgoa, Jamisontown, Cranebrook, Yarramundi, South Maroota, Windsor Downs, Windsor Central, Wilberforce, Pitt Town East, Riverstone, Marsden Park, Schofields, Freemans Reach, Londonderry and Clarendon.
There are moderate to major flooding warnings in the following areas:

* Hawkesbury and Nepean Rivers, Colo River, Georges River and Shoalhaven River.

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