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North Coast NSW braces for floods just 10 weeks after ex-Cyclone Debbie devastation

By Samantha Turnbull, Tuesday June 13, 2017 - 11:41 EST
ABC image
The rowing club carpark is under water in Lismore. - ABC

Flood warnings have been issued for parts of the New South Wales north coast just 10 weeks after the region was devastated by caused by ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

Minor flood warnings have been issued by the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) for the Richmond and Wilsons Rivers at Lismore, Coraki and Bungawalbyn and the Brunswick River Valley at Billinudgel.

A flood watch has also been issued for the Brunswick, Richmond, Wilsons, Tweed, Coffs Coast, Orara, Bellinger and Nambucca river valleys.

More than 300mm of rain fell in some parts of the region throughout the long weekend, including 357mm at New Italy and 315mm at Yamba.

A severe weather warning for heavy rain has also been issued by the BOM with another 100–150mm potentially falling in parts of the Northern Rivers over the next two days.

SES spokesman Jonty Bruce said there were no calls for assistance on Monday night, but more than 400 calls were recorded between Thursday and Sunday and from a flooded causeway at Billinudgel on Sunday.

He said crews remained on alert.

"The current weather system is so volatile at the moment it's hard to make any accurate predictions about what is likely to occur," Mr Bruce said.

SES spokesman Peter Rekers said he felt for the region, which was still recovering from the major flood of late March–early April.

"The real problem is the intensity of this rain," he said.

"For those people who go round to the rivers and check their trusty flood gauges, their river gauges, that's not really going to give you an accurate picture here.

"This is all about the water landing directly on top of you.


"In the recent events their flooding was all what they call clear water, as opposed to muddy water which is silted and has come down from the river system."

Rain to ease Wednesday

BOM duty forecaster Mohammed Nabi said it was a complex weather system.

"We've got a large broad ridge of high pressure, we've also got a trough lingering around the far-north-east corner of the state," he said.

"Now there's a little low that has formed on that trough and that is dragging a lot of moisture off the sea, being helped along with those easterly winds at the corner of the high-pressure system pushing all of that onto the Northern Rivers.

"What's been happening is that we get these occasional persistent showers that last for about 10 to 15 minutes and they bring about 10 to 15 millimetres an hour over different locations.

"It's not so much one big deluge; it's more like a multi-day event."

BOM duty forecaster Katarina Kovacevic said the system should begin to ease on Wednesday.

"The trough will shift north and break down and we'll see mostly a ridge over southern parts of New South Wales," she said.

"Shower activity will definitely continue but not this sort of persistent rain and we're not anticipating heavy falls."

Pump station problems

Meanwhile, the Lismore City Council is hoping a replacement pump will be enough to clear floodwater from low-lying parts of the city.

One of the pumps at the Browns Creek Station is not working and the other is working below its usual capacity after being damaged during the previous flood.

Local Emergency Management Officer Scott Turner said a replacement had been shipped up from a Sydney Fire and Rescue unit.

"The concern this time is not necessarily the height of the river but the amount of rain that's going to fall in Lismore itself," Mr Turner said.

"The issue we're going to have is that if we get more than 5–8mm per hour of rain, that pump is operating at absolute capacity."


© ABC 2017

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