Sat. Dec 3rd, 2022

A severe weather warning has been issued for Sydney and much of New South Wales as another evacuation was ordered in the flood-hit Riverina town.

The National Emergency Service urged people in Deniliquin to leave their homes by Wednesday.

Adding to the city’s problems, devastating westerly winds are expected on Monday that could reach speeds of up to 90 km/h.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning for much of the state’s south, including Sydney and the Illawarra, Riverina, Snowy Mountains and ACT regions.

Damaging westerly winds averaging 50 to 70 km/h with gusts in excess of 90 km/h are likely in higher elevations, as well as eastwards to the coast and across the Goulburn region.

Damaging wind gusts in excess of 90 km/h are possible for the rest of the warning area, including the Sydney metropolitan area and Canberra.

Showers or thunderstorms are also forecast throughout Rijeka and the southwestern slopes.

In the 24 hours until Monday morning, SES received 617 calls for help, and performed three flood rescues.

There are 102 warnings in force in the country, 16 of which are at the level of a state of emergency.

The SES said it was focused on Forbes, Condobolin, Euabalong, Eugowra, Walgett, Bourke, Hay, Albury, Echuca, Mildura, Wentworth, Deniliquin, Wee Waa and Moulamein.

Many calls for help over the weekend were in response to damage caused by high winds, including blown roofs and downed trees and power lines.

Meteorologist Jonathan How said cold and windy conditions were unusual for late spring and urged people to heed warnings and stay away from trees.

“With the winds, because everything is so wet, we expect to see some light downing of trees and even power lines today,” he told ABC TV on Monday.

“Winds will continue tonight and maybe even tomorrow morning. By tomorrow we should see some of the strongest winds begin to subside.”

The risk of flooding remains in central western cities, but no significant rain is expected in saturated catchments this week.

Moderate flooding continues in Forbes, but the real concern this week is downstream at Condobolin, where the Lachlan River is expected to peak on Wednesday.

Authorities are keeping a close eye on the three kilometer embankment around the Condobolin CBD which SES Chief Superintendent Dallas Burns says is expected to withstand the current peak.

SES worked closely with local councils to ensure the maintenance of the dykes.

“Obviously with these floods that have been rising and falling so frequently over the past months, there’s been quite a bit of damage to those levees just from erosion, so that’s something we’re very concerned about,” he told ABC TV.

As floodwaters recede, according to Forbes, the city is moving into recovery, with Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke saying damage assessments are being carried out, with the aim of allowing some people to return to their homes.

ADF members are helping to bag sand and clear homes, although some parts of the city remain waterlogged.

Of the 400 damage assessments carried out by SES so far, half of the properties have been marked as “damaged”.

As the peak moves downstream, Cooke said already isolated communities are bracing for a serious rise in water levels.

“Our thoughts are with those communities,” she said.

“We know you are going through a difficult time and we will continue to stand by you during the response and recovery phase.”

To support communities, nine recovery help points opened this week, including Eugowra, Orange, Parkes, Gunnedah, Cudal, Wagga Wagga, Narrabri and Moree.

The multi-agency centers are designed to help flood-affected individuals, families, farmers and business owners begin the cleanup, rebuilding and recovery process.