Weather News

With NSW facing more wet weather as Cyclone Uesi looms, SES issues urgent advice

Matt Bamford, Thursday February 13, 2020 - 11:00 EDT
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Emergency Services are bracing for more busy days as a second storm front approaches the NSW coast. - ABC

Wet weather warnings for have been issued for New South Wales days after thousands of residents were caught out by record-breaking rainfall.

Cyclone Uesi is tracking towards the east coast with more heavy falls and large swells expected in the coming days.

The weather front is not expected to directly impact the mainland, but an inland trough will likely bring thunderstorms and flooding to the coast.

Efforts are underway to shore up communities already dealing with flooding, and work is continuing to restore power to tens of thousands of homes in Sydney.

The State Emergency Service, which received more than 4,000 calls for assistance last weekend, has called on the public to be prepared.

"[During flooding] we don't know how long it might take to get to people," NSW SES media coordinator Amanda Allen said.

"So it's best to think of the worst case scenario and make sure you have the supplies that you need."

Bracing for impact

In the days leading up to a storm event residents can begin organising an emergency kit, which should contain a battery-powered radio, a waterproof torch, and a first aid kit.

Buying non-perishable food and bottled water is also recommended, as is drawing up a list of essential phone numbers, which should include those of the SES and your electricity provider.

As the front rolls in, mobile phones should be fully charged and property secured.

Ms Allen said there were a number of common pitfalls that could be avoided by being organised.

"Securing objects that are likely to float and cause damage, that's a a big tip," she said.

"[Tying down] things like garden furniture or trampolines that can fly away in severe weather.

"Make sure chemicals are moved to an elevated place so they're safe."

'Absorb the message'

Despite repeated warnings, Ms Allen said there were still "disturbing" signs that safety messages had not reached everyone.

"[Last weekend] we had 10 rescues in one night and the majority of those were for people in vehicles who had entered flood waters," she said.

"The need to stay off the roads during flooding, that feels like a message people really aren't absorbing."

She said volunteers were risking their lives every time they entered flood waters and these rescues had placed an "enormous demand" resources.

Most cars will stall in water deeper than 15 centimetres, as the exhaust and air intake are inundated.

If flood waters rise to 30cm, tvehicles can begin to float.

According to the NRMA, cars should not be driven if floodwaters have reached the lower levels of the door.

After a flood, their vehicle's safety components, steering and brakes, replace fluids and check ventilation systems for debris.

Individual responsibility

On Sunday, Sydneysider Di Barnes lost power as a result of the deluge and has had to adjust her lifestyle.

The St Ives resident said individuals should assist their communities if they can.

"The SES do the most extraordinary job, but when these things happen, we citizens have really got to lift our game," Ms Barnes said.

"What we can do so we are not drawing on external resources?

"Think about it ahead of time … ask, 'who can I look out for?'"

She said this summer has reminded her of the value of community spirit.

"I think the heart of this nation beats in the chest of the volunteers," she said.

Don't be complacent

Ms Allen said even residents in developed areas should be vigilant.

"If people haven't experienced it before it's difficult to understand how real the threat can be," she said.

The idea that residents can leave when flood waters get too high is also a common mistake.

"By the time it gets to that stage the roads could be flooded and it might not be safe to leave … and then people panic," she said.

"[In a bushfire] you don't wait until the fire is on your doorstep — you have to be prepared."

Eyes on the storm

The Bureau of Meteorology's Amy Debattista is stationed on Lord Howe Island and is watching Cyclone Uesi approach.

"We've got very overcast conditions, the wind's up around 50km per hour, but we are expecting that to increase to gale force winds this evening," Ms Debattista told

"We are in our peak tourist season, our lodges are fairly full with tourists — right now about 400 tourists.

"We are quite a resilient island, we do cop a lot of bad weather, but rest assured we are taking precautions.

"People are cleaning gutters and drains, bringing in boats and preparing as best as we can."


© ABC 2020

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