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Thousands still isolated by second flood in a month

Monday February 25, 2013 - 20:30 EDT

More than 20,000 people are still isolated by floodwaters across northern New South Wales, as some residents clear up from the second flood in a month.

Councils in the area are urging the State Government to move swiftly to announce disaster declarations for the region, where there eight rivers still considered in flood.

Roads, bridges and other vital infrastructure have been damaged in cyclone-like winds and flooding over the past few days.

River levels are now either steady or falling and areas including low-lying parts of Port Macquarie, Macksville and Yellow Rock have been given the all-clear.

An evacuation order has been lifted for the Kempsey central business district but there are still detours around some flooded streets.

Phil Campbell from the State Emergency Service (SES) says steady rain falling in the area may mean some people are isolated for longer.

"In the far north-east of the state there is some heavy rain that has redeveloped," he said.

"That isn't expected however to cause additional flooding. It will perhaps hold up some river systems and exacerbate the time that people have to wait for floodwaters to fall but it's not expected to cause any significant issues."

Nambucca shire mayor, Rhonda Hoban, says a disaster declaration should be made as soon as possible.

"I think for a lot of Local Government areas up and down the coast it's going to make them breath a sigh of relief," she said.

"Our preliminary concern is how do we fund all of these repairs? Once it's declared you know that if you've got in excess of a certain amount of damage, that you've got some sort of financial assistance."



The State's Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner is visiting the area today.

He says he will be reporting back to Premier about what he has seen with a view to securing disaster assistance.

"I'll be following through, as local member for Oxley, to ensure that those disaster declarations are made," he said.

The Pacific Highway is closed in both directions north of Grafton.

The Transport Management Centre's Brett Moore says the key problem areas are near Clybucca and Maclean.

"If you do need to get from one end of the north coast to the other, the New England Highway still the way to go," he said.

"There is water across the highway at a number of different locations and even some of the areas of the highway that are open, there is still debris, there's still some water the conditions aren't fantastic."

Mattress folly

Emergency services have criticised two men who used a double bed air mattress to enter floodwaters on the mid-north coast.

Authorities found the men after they had climbed an embankment to escape the floodwaters of the Manning River near Wingham, in the Manning Great Lakes area.

Police say they are appalled and angered by the irresponsible behaviour, after the deaths of two men in separate flood related accidents.

Phil Campbell from the State Emergency Service says nobody should enter floodwaters under any circumstances.

"It's disappointing given that we've had 84 flood rescues and we've also had two deaths in New South Wales from floodwaters and continue to see people put their lives at risk by putting themselves deliberately into floodwater," he said.


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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