The worst floods in decades

THE full scale of the rainfall to hit the Great Lakes over the weekend, briefly isolating the township of Forster-Tuncurry, been dubbed “extraordinary” by the State Emergency Service (SES).

A full post-mortem is yet to be carried out but there are suggestions it may have been the worst flooding to hit the Great Lakes in more than two decades.

“Following on from the extreme weather to hit the area in the past fortnight it was predicted by the bureau of meteorology that a low pressure system off the Hunter Coast would impact on the Great Lakes area on Friday night,” SES deputy region controller Mid North Coast Tony Day explained.

In just 19 hours 230 millimetres of rain fell at Tuncurry and 200 millimetres fell at Markwell near Bulahdelah. 

“Friday night and into the early hours of Saturday morning the region experienced a period of extraordinarily heavy localised rainfall and SES personnel were called to various incidents, including a number of flood rescues, mostly focused in the North Arm Cove, Tea Gardens and Bulahdelah areas,” Mr Day said.

As the rain continued to fall several roads and bridges were closed which isolated Forster Tuncurry at Lakes Estate in the south and Failford Road in the north.

“In the early hours of Saturday morning the runoff from that heavy rain started moving towards The Lakes Way and for a period of three to four hours the township of Forster-Tuncurry was isolated. Though the town was isolated, it wasn’t critical and through pre-positioned resources the isolation did not affect the operations of emergency services.” 

The number of rescues and calls for assistance highlights the need for people to be prepared for such incidents and take every precaution when dealing with them.

“This incident surprised a few people because it happened so quickly. It re-enforces the message that people need to be cautious and minimise risks. Do not attempt to cross floodwaters, even those that only appear to be at surface level, the danger is too great and it may require rescuers to also put themselves in harm’s way.”

The flooding follows similar incidents on the Mid North Coast, particularly in the Port Macquarie, Nambucca Valley and Manning Valley areas which has stretched SES resources.

“It is extremely unusual to have two events like this in such quick succession,” Mr Day said.

“We’ve called in SES members from western region and south coast brigades to assist local members who have endured two weeks of prolonged operations in the area.”

Mr Day also urged the community to acknowledge the efforts of the SES volunteers who have worked tirelessly over the past fortnight.

“These volunteers are regular people with jobs and commitments, some come on duty straight after work or forgo work and pay to attend to these incidents and be there when people need them.”

For details on ongoing road closures visit Great Lakes Council’s webpage www.greatlakes.nsw.gov.au

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