Australia

Two people believed to be missing in Eugowra as NSW flood crisis shows no signs of letting up

Key Points
  • The entire central west region of NSW is on high alert for renewed inundation.
  • Two people are believed to be missing in the town of Eugowra.
  • Forbes residents face their second disaster in a fortnight.
A multi-agency search is underway for a man and a woman believed missing during severe flooding in the NSW central west town of Eugowra, as the entire region remains on high alert for renewed inundation.
Rapid torrents of water reached roof height throughout the town early on Monday morning, and taking many locals by surprise.
Dianne Smith, 60, was last heard from on Monday morning when she called a relative from her car in the historic town as it went under.
When unable to make contact with her, her relatives contacted police.

Also believed to be missing is Ljubisa “Les” Vugec, 85, who was last seen at his home in Eugowra about 9am on Monday.

Searches are now underway in the Eugowra area for the missing pair, involving numerous police agencies and the State Emergency Service (SES).
Elsewhere in the region, and decimated communities clean up.
The Bureau of Meteorology warns the Lachlan River at Forbes could meet the historic June 1952 peak of 10.8 metres by Wednesday morning and major flooding is expected to persist until the end of the week.
The SES has issued evacuation warnings across the town, affecting about 1000 people and up to 600 homes and businesses.

Crews have been door-knocking and sandbagging since 120mm of rain fell in a matter of hours early on Monday, causing ferocious flash flooding and forcing Wyangala Dam to spill into the swollen Lachlan River.

Around 100 Australian Defence Force personnel have been deployed to help in rescue operations with 12 New Zealand volunteers also arriving.
Fourteen aircraft have been designated to support stranded residents and another four are helping with logistics and transport.
SES Commissioner Carlene York says the response is “one of the biggest operations … across NSW in its history”.
The torrential rain doubled the height of Mandagery Creek at Eugowra, east of Forbes, early on Monday, devastating the town of 800 people.
Kelly Chambers was celebrating her twin daughters’ 23rd birthday on Sunday night in the house the family bought less than a year ago.

Just hours later, they climbed out a window and waded through waist-deep water as a torrent tore through the village.

Eugowra resident Kelly Chambers says she family had to escape through window of their home during flash flooding in the town. Source: AAP / MURRAY MCCLOSKEY

Ms Chambers, her husband, their three children and her parents eventually found a truck trailer to perch on among a group of about 20 people and seven dogs.

They stayed put for six hours before a fire truck delivered them to the evacuation centre at the showground, from where they were flown to Orange for the night.
“It’s devastating. Anything that is a memory is gone,” Ms Chambers told AAP on Tuesday, standing in muddy puddles on her floor and surveying the flood line high on her walls.
“I walk out with jumpers because that’s all I’ve got to salvage from my cupboard.”

Eugowra residents have described two sudden and intense surges of water flowing through the town, washing away houses, knocking over structures and leaving destruction like a “warzone”.

An aerial view of a flooded town

The major regional NSW centre of Forbes is still recovering from the last major flood that hit the town. Credit: CRAIG DWYER

On Tuesday afternoon Fire and Rescue NSW crews helped find eight people reported missing. They discovered upturned cars, including a van in a tree, a stricken ambulance, flattened sheds and damaged roads.

There were more than 100 flood alerts active across the state on Tuesday afternoon, including an emergency warning for Condobolin, which has been cut off.
The SES performed 34 flood rescues and responded to nearly 500 calls for help in the 24 hours to 3pm.
Cleanup operations have begun at towns and villages including Canowindra, Cowra and Cudal, which were also hit by flash flooding, leaving homes and shops in muddied ruin.

The SES is planning to deploy more international teams, with storms predicted in the state’s south on the weekend.

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