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NSW weather: 11yo boy missing, BOM issues severe thunderstorm warning for Illawarra

By Riley Stuart, Thursday March 16, 2017 - 21:41 EDT
ABC licensed image
Heavy rain has caused chaos on the roads around the Illawarra. - ABC licensed

An 11-year-old boy has been confirmed as missing in Wollongong, with reports kids were riding boogie boards near a stormwater drain, as flash flooding closed roads, shut down trains and resulted in dozens of rescues south of Sydney.

Police said the boy's friends raised the alarm after last seeing him at Unanderra a few hours ago.

The NSW State Emergency Service and Police Rescue were searching at Riley Park, off Central Avenue.

One witness said a number of children were riding boogie boards down a hill that connects to a stormwater drain.

Flooding has closed the Princes Highway at Albion Park and Shoalhaven Heads, and the Illawarra Highway at Albion Park and Robertson.

The State Emergency Service has fielded 230 calls for help.

Between 9am and 8pm, 201mm of rain was dumped on Macquarie Pass, while Robertson (189mm) and Wollongong (149mm) saw heavy falls.

The witness said he noticed a commotion about the missing boy at about 6:45pm and spoke to his mother.

"She was quite devastated and very worried," the witness said.

"A whole lot of search crews and police turned up and they searched the drains."

BOM says rain to persist overnight

Hundreds of motorists remain stuck in traffic with the Princes Highway closed due to flooding at both Albion Park and north of Ulladulla.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for heavy rainfall for people in the Illawarra and parts of the south coast.

Locations that may be affected include Wollongong, Nowra, Port Kembla, Albion Park, Huskisson and Ulladulla.

Rebecca Kamitakahara, from the BOM, said while the heaviest falls were over rain would persist throughout the night.

"There is still a risk of thunderstorm activity with some heavy rainfall in it," she said.

"The risk of storm activity decreases as the night goes on but we will still see rainfall across the region."

SES spokesperson Andrew Richards said several low-lying roads in the area were susceptible to flooding.

"We usually get a fair bit of flooding around Shellharbour, and there's some heavy falls around Kiama," he said.

"There are some pretty notorious roads that go under water when this happens.

"We would recommend that people reconsider non-essential travel.

"If people do choose to go on the roads, and you come across flooding, turn around and find a safer route."

It is the fourth day of wild weather for NSW, which has endured a soggy week.

Yesterday, areas around Coffs Harbour received almost a month's rainfall in one day, while on Tuesday 90 children had to be evacuated from a childcare centre in Sydney's western outskirts during a storm.


© ABC 2017

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