“Worst flooding I’ve seen”: NSW’s top forecaster

Thousands have been evacuated and hundreds of homes flooded but the worst of record-breaking floods across NSW might still be to come, the premier says.
By AAP March 22, 2021 Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page

NSW’s top forecaster says the record-breaking floods coursing through many of the state’s towns are the worst he’s seen – and there’s more torrential rain to come. 

Homes have been swept away, livelihoods ruined and thousands evacuated amid relentless rain that has thrashed the coast for days.

Eighteen thousand people have been evacuated and there are 40 flood warnings current, with more people expected to be asked to leave on Monday.

Seven of the warnings cover areas in western Sydney.

Some locations have seen almost a metre of rain in one week, the Bureau of Meteorology says.

“I’ve been a flood forecaster in the Bureau for 20 years and this is probably the worst flooding that I’ve experienced and I’ve had to forecast,” flood manager Justin Field said.

“We’ve got a flood watch that covers all the way from the Queensland border down to the Victorian border – all those coastal rivers.

“My thoughts really go out to those impacted communities and individuals.”

More rain is on the way too, the BOM warns.

The trough that has been causing the havoc is due to collide with another system coming in from the southwest.

That means Sydney and the mid north coast could cop another 100mm in the next day or so and a season’s worth of rain is possible in the west.

Upstate communities are already facing the worst flooding conditions since 1929 and those along the Hawkesbury River are confronting the worst flooding since 1961.

A number of towns across the state have been isolated for days, some without fresh water or power.

Roads have been cut off, hundreds of homes inundated and more than 200 schools shut.

The renewed rainfall means the worst is potentially yet to come, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

“We’re not through the worst of it potentially and that’s why we need to brace ourselves,” she told reporters.

“We have no illusions about how difficult the next few weeks and months will be.”

Related: Top 10 worst floods in Australia

Major flooding is still expected along the Macleay River at Kempsey and Smithtown on Monday.

Moderate flooding is still plaguing Taree, while major flooding is occurring at Gloucester.

Inland, the Macquarie River is forecast to reach moderate levels in Bathurst on Monday afternoon.

In the Sydney basin, North Richmond and Windsor have been hit by major flooding.

Downstream, Sackville, Lower Portland and Wiseman’s Ferry are also expected to reach major flood levels.

The state’s south coast is also due to cop a beating, with 200-300mm to fall in the 36 hours to late Tuesday evening.

The good news is that flooding is easing on the Nepean River and in some parts of the Mid-North Coast region, and some evacuees can return home, the premier said.

Those evacuated from the western part of Jamisontown and Penrith, and the northern end of Mulgoa are among those given the all-clear to return home.

It is a miracle no lives have been lost, Ms Berejiklian said.

“I’m so relieved.”

“I don’t want to jinx it but until this point in time, no one has lost their lives which is pretty much a miracle given what we’ve been through.”

The Australian Defence Force is expected to be deployed to help with recovery efforts.