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Evacuations in NSW due to potentially record and life-threatening flooding, Australia


Residents across New South Wales, Australia, have been ordered to evacuate on Friday, March 19, 2021, after severe flooding– described by the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) as "potentially life-threatening"– swept through the state. Severe inundations are already occurring along major rivers, with some expected to surpass record levels overnight.

"We are seeing very intense, very heavy, potentially life-threatening rainfall happening on the mid-north coast right now," the BOM stated. "We're seeing rainfall totals of over 100 mm (4 inches) falling in about an hour. That is very dangerous rainfall."

Residents in low-lying areas along the lower Macleay River are the latest to be urged to evacuate by Friday evening. People in low-lying areas in Kempsey were also warned that they may need to flee as waters are expected to severely flood the CBD overnight.

Other residents told to evacuate were those in some properties in Kings Point, the Macksville CBD, Bulahdelah, North Haven, Dunbogan, Camden Head, Laurieton, and Port Macquarie. In Nambucca, heavy rains have caused a landslip, while roads have been washed away further south in Port Stephens.

Severe flooding is already taking place along several major rivers, with the Hastings and Wauchope expected to exceed record levels overnight.

Multiple warnings and evacuation alerts are in force for the NSW mid-north coast. More flood warnings are in place across a dozen rivers, including in greater Sydney and the far west area.

On Saturday, March 20, Sydney is expected to bear the brunt of the severe weather as the system moves south.

"We might see quite a significant flash flooding and we've got a flood watch current for both the Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers," said Justin Robinson, a flood forecaster in NSW with the BOM.

"We're likely to see a spill from Warragamba Dam and that will then impact those communities downstream."

During the past 24 hours, the State Emergency Services (SES) attended to at least 57 flood rescues and responded to more than 1 300 calls for help.

Heavy downpours are expected to continue into next week and may bring the heaviest rainfall since February 2020. Inland NSW is also forecast to be drenched by another system in the coming week.

Featured image credit: Fire and Rescue NSW

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