Incredible photos show large dams collapsing and riverbanks bursting as thousands of Australians are warned to leave their homes amid wild weather and torrential rains.
- Thousands of residents were told to prepare to evacuate with major flood forecast for central west NSW
- More than 8,000 residents in Forbes warned by NSW SES that they are on their way to the rising Lachlan River
- The level of the Lachlan River is expected to rise to close to 10.7 meters during the deadly 2016 floods
Thousands of people in the NSW central west have been warned to prepare for evacuation as the Lachlan River threatens to flood after heavy rains lash the state.
The city of Forbes, 350 km west of Sydney, has more than 8,000 people on its way to the river, which continues to flow upstream.
The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted a possible major flood at 10.55m on Tuesday and 10.65m on Wednesday morning.
The level would be close to the 10.7 meters recorded during the deadly 2016 floods, which killed one person and damaged hundreds of hectares of crops.
The state emergency service has warned locals in 800 homes to begin preparations and make arrangements to go to safety before the floods begin.
“The situation is likely to change and may escalate rapidly,” the SES warned.
In the past 24 hours, the SES unit at Forbes has answered 120 calls for help – mostly for sandbagging and leaking roofs.
Thousands of residents prepare to evacuate their homes as a major flood warning is issued for the central west of NSW
The residents, determined to wait for the flood, have been filling their houses with sand since Sunday.
Locals Barbara and husband Anthony ‘Sam’ Judd have their house on the sidelines as they prepare for the worst.
‘We don’t know how it will affect us,’ said Mrs. Judd. ‘We’re just taking precautions… In the 2016 floods, there was about four inches (of water) in the garden.’
The NSW SES has provided more than 6,000 sandbags to residents after receiving nearly 100 calls for help over the weekend.
The rise in the river level is partly due to heavy rains and increased seepage from the Wayangala dam, as the catchment capacity reached 104 per cent over the weekend.
Forbes Mayor Phyllis Miller said the dam’s walls needed to be raised to avoid a catastrophe.
“The damage that floods cause to livelihoods and the environment is appalling, especially when we can stop it,” he said.
The region has been raining heavily for the past week and large areas of NSW have been flooded and more than a dozen people have been rescued by emergency services across the state.
Across the state, the volunteer organization has responded to 320 calls for help in the past 24 hours, particularly in Sydney’s Hills district, the Blue Mountains and the regional town of Wagga Wagga as rain as well as strong winds have caused widespread destruction .
St Andrews Church in Forbes has been set up as an evacuation center as residents monitor the situation.
People were busy with sand-filled properties after the Wayangala dam near Kaura on the Lachlan river overflowed on Sunday.
“Residents should monitor the situation and be prepared to evacuate if instructed to do so,” SES spokeswoman Andrea Cantal said on Monday.
‘The level of elevation of the river in Nanami … will determine the level of elevation of the bottom in Forbes, which will determine how many people we are going to evacuate.’
The BoM says that flood waters combined with increased spills from the Wayangala Dam have already caused moderate flooding along the Lachlan River in Koura, where the river level is at its peak.
The floodwaters of Kaura, along with floodwaters from the Belubula River, caused major flooding in Nanami, where river levels are expected to peak on Monday.
Downstream from Forbes, cotton wear and Gemlong are also expected to see major flooding from Monday.
A flood evacuation order will be issued by the NSW SES via text message if it goes ahead.