New South Wales hit by flooding

Monday 28th Nov 2011 by theWeather Club

Image: Ian Sutton

Floodwaters caused by heavy rain have cut off roads and power isolating more than 2000 people in Australia state of New South Wales. More than 900 people have called for emergency help and 29 people were rescued from the floodwaters, but the floodwaters tragically claimed the life of a three-year-old boy who was swept away by the surging waters.

Officials said the town of Wee Waa in the north of the state would be cut off for up to one week by the flooding which has reached a depth of seven metres in some parts, after several rivers in the state burst their banks during heavy rains. It means that they will have to fly in supplies by helicopter.

Often it is the rapid approach of the floodwater that causes the problems but on the larger scale these floods are posing the opposite problems. "This is a very slow flood. Because it's so flat, it stays around for quite a long time," State Emergency Services (SES) spokesman Phil Campbell said. "The flash flooding we had during Saturday has now abated." Mr Campbell said: "We're now at the stage of main river flooding, particularly at the Gwydir and Namoi rivers in the northern inland. These are slow-moving floods and these floodwaters will transition down those streams for several weeks."

According to Mr Campbell, the SES aircraft teams would shift their efforts from rescue operations to providing relief by dispatching food and essentials. It means that while abating in some areas the waters will build in others. In the town of Moree, almost 90km northeast of Wee Waa, 400 people have been told they might need to evacuate as rising water level in rivers is increasingly flooding the surrounding land. "They're now assessing what effect that will have and whether that will require a full evacuation," Mr Campbell continued.

And it seems that there the immediate future brings very little cause for comfort. The country's weather bureau has forecast heavy rains in coming months due to a La Nina pattern in the Pacific Ocean, which is usually associated with extreme rainfall in Australia and Asia.