Shocking footage of an "ocean" in the middle of rural Australia has highlighted the devastating extent of the flood crisis in NSW’s Central West.
The video shows paddocks in Hay completely engulfed with water as far as the eye can see as two cars drive through the "sea".
"Please don’t go up road closed signs, you don’t know what you’re gonna come across. Getting sandbags to Maude," Kate Jackson Nisbet, who filmed the clip, wrote on Facebook. Ms Jackson Nisbet said she had never seen such extreme flooding in the area before, adding "it just gets worse the further down you get". "It’s like it’s everywhere, in every direction."
The video has left viewers stunned, with some saying it "blew their mind". "Wow, that’s almost unbelievable," one person wrote. "Oh my gosh. It looks like an ocean," another said. "You would think you’re driving through a sea," a third chimed in.
A major flood warning has been issued for the Murrumbidgee River at Hay, with moderate flooding occurring at Carrathool and Balranald, and major flooding possible at Balranald. Residents of Maude were urged to leave their homes on Tuesday.
The NSW Central West has been decimated by floodwaters and a third person was missing in Eugowra on Thursday while hundreds of homes and businesses are underwater.
"The Murrumbidgee River at Hay Town is currently at 9.09 metres and slowly falling, with major flooding, higher than the September 1974 flood level (9.02 metres)," according to the Bureau of Meteorology. "The Murrumbidgee River at Hay Town is likely to remain above the major flood level (8.00 m) into the weekend."
Ongoing flood crisis to cost billions
The ongoing NSW flood crisis will cost the nation billions, but people in decimated regional towns can rely on the federal government to pick up the pieces.
Federal Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt says the clean-up bill will be staggering, with $3 billion allocated for disaster payments and repairs alone.
He was speaking as the central western town of Forbes (pictured below on Wednesday evening) became the focus of emergency services efforts on Thursday, with days of flooding predicted. Hundreds of homes and businesses are underwater — some for the second time in as many weeks. On Thursday the Lachlan River was at a level of 7.41 metres at Condobolin on Thursday, above the 1952 record of 7.37m.
"The overall cost of the current flood disaster, I can guarantee you, is going to be in the billions of dollars," Mr Watt told reporters in Brisbane. "With each week these floods go on and with each road damaged, the damage bill is going to go up."
Mr Watt said dozens, possibly hundreds of homes in the decimated town of Eugowra, which was hit with catastrophic flash flooding on Monday, have been deemed "uninhabitable". "You've literally got homes that have been washed away ... they've been dislodged and moved in some cases tens and hundreds of metres down the street."
The Lachlan River is flowing through the centre of Forbes, inching closer to a predicted peak of 10.8 metres on Thursday, a similar level to the historic inundation of June 1952. Around 1000 people have evacuated hundreds of homes.
About 85 kilometres west of Forbes, the entire town of Condobolin has been cut off due to flood levels not seen before, Lachlan Shire mayor John Medcalf said. "We've got a situation now which is just an absolute natural disaster. At the moment, the flood is at one of its highest peaks it's been for many, many years," he told AAP on Thursday.
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