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Bega bracing for flooding twin peaks

Tuesday March 22, 2011 - 14:14 EDT

Emergency crews in the southern New South Wales town of Bega are hopeful heavy flooding is easing, but the coastal town's river is again rising.

Rain has been replaced by blue skies at Bega, and a severe weather warning for the region has been cancelled.

But there were heavy falls earlier in the day, with a 330 millimetre deluge causing road closures including the Princes and Snowy Mountains highways.

State Emergency Services Commissioner Murray Kear says the Bega River peaked at 6:00am (AEDT) but is now rising again.

"That river could go up and down," he said.

Mr Kear says it is possible the river could rise above its previous peak.

SES region controller Greg Murphy says there are conflicting reports from crews.

"There has been a very slight rise, it's now just popped back up to eight-point-six (metres), and as far as we can tell there seems to be no significant additional affects from that extra 200 millimetres on top of the previous peak," Mr Murphy said.

"At this stage, with the easing weather, we are still expecting the situation to ease."

The 8.6 metre peak is worse than severe flooding that hit Bega in 1978.

Yesterday there were reports of up to 50 properties being evacuated, but Mr Kear says only two homes are currently evacuated with a further six being closely watched.

More than 5000 people have been left without power at the nearby towns of Bermagui and Eden.

Essential Energy regional manager Phillip Greens says the flooding has been a challenge for crews.

"We did send some staff down there early this morning, especially with the way the rivers and the creeks were, to make sure they were there in case something did happen," Mr Green said.

"We've got some poles blown over and washed over due to the flooding. We do have some access issues, but we're getting around them at the moment."

State Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan says the region may qualify for disaster support.

"It does sound like we would end up with one. But we'll just have to wait and see that later today," Mr Whan said.

Further north, the clean-up is continuing in the Illawarra region after more than 270mm of rain was dumped there yesterday.

The region has not seen such strong rainfalls since 1998.

Murray Kear says the SES conducted 44 flood rescues in the region yesterday, as people ignored warnings not to try to get through the waters.

A man's body was pulled from a swollen creek at Warilla during flash flooding.

Witnesses say he was walking in floodwaters when he was washed into the creek.

The body is yet to be identified.

A number of schools will remain closed today.

- ABC

© ABC 2011

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