Thousands of people in Sydney's west, northwest and southwest have been ordered to evacuate their homes immediately as the flood crisis gripping NSW continues, with severe weather and heavy rain battering vast swathes of the state.
The Bureau of Meteorology is warning of life-threatening flash flooding and damaging winds with peak gusts in excess of 90 km/h, prompting weather warnings from Newcastle to Bega.
Major flooding is expected along the Hawkesbury and Nepean and Georges rivers, at Menangle, North Richmond, Penrith and Windsor on Thursday.
Residents in western Sydney who endured floods in the Hawkesbury-Nepean region in March last year were told to leave on Wednesday night after around 600 gigalitres of water flowed over the Warragamba Dam wall.
More than 100mm of rain fell in multiple areas near the dam between 9am and 6pm on Wednesday.
76 evacuation orders in place
Minister for Emergency Services, Steph Cook, said during a press conference on Thursday morning that there are 76 evacuation orders in place, covering 200,000 people.
"And we have 18 evacuation warnings across NSW covering nearly 300,000 people," she said.
"Combined we have 500,000 people in our state right now who are either the subject of an evacuation warning or an evacuation order, and we need each and every one of you to continue listening to the advice provided by our emergency services organisations."
— Noirpaien ❄️🦙🤸🏼♀️🧬🦘🫖 (@noirpaien) March 2, 2022
NSW SES overnight issued more than 20 evacuation orders to tens of thousands of people living in Sydney's west, northwest and southwestern suburbs including Windsor, North Richmond, Camden, Emu Plains, North Penrith and Milperra.
Anyone living in Londonderry, Sandy Point, and parts of Holsworthy, East Hills, Pleasure Point, Mulgrave, North Richmond, Shanes Park, South Maroota, as well as parts of Picnic Point, parts of Riverstone, parts of Cattai, parts of Windsor, parts of Yarramundi North, and the central part of Yarramundi should flee by 9am, they warned.
There is also an evacuation order in place for low lying parts of Tuggerah Lake at Long Jetty. Residents must leave by 10am.
The areas affected include; Berkley Vale, Chittaway Bay, Chittaway Point, Long Jetty, Tacoma, Tacoma South, The Entrance North, South Tacoma Road, McDonagh Street, Pollock Avenue, Panonia Road, Wyong Aged Care Facility, and multiple low lying roads.
"No need to panic but you need to move away from the lake by 7am due to predicting rising floodwaters," NSW SES wrote.
"Once flood water begins inundating the area road access water, sewerage, power, phones and internet may be lost. If you remain in the area, you will be trapped, and it may be too dangerous for SES to rescue you."
NSW SES has created a map outlining all of the evacuation orders currently in place.
NSW Health says people isolating due to Covid-19 who need to evacuate their home because of rising floodwaters must leave.
A road weather alert is in place for all Sydney suburbs as heavy rain reduces visibility and creates dangerous driving conditions.
Major Flooding is occurring in southwest Sydney exceeding March 2021 levels with Major Flood warnings in place. It's raining, with some areas hit harder than others and more rain on its way. Keep a serious eye on the warnings and forecasts: https://t.co/2qM1QRn3xE @NSWSES pic.twitter.com/37j66m7iHA
— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) March 2, 2022
250mm of rain expected in just hours
SES assistant Commissioner Sean Keans says an east coast low off Newcastle will bring heavy rain to the Hunter, the Central Coast and Sydney, the Illawarra and the South Coast on Thursday morning.
"That's going to bring with it up to 250mm of rain over a two to three hour period which can be really dangerous and it's also going to bring strong winds, so we are asking people if they can avoid unnecessary travel," he told Sydney radio 2GB.
River levels are rising extremely fast due to the sheer volume of rain, with flood levels along the Hawkesbury-Nepean set to be worse than those which affected the area in March 2021.
"The flooding is going to be higher this time," Mr Keans warned.
NSW SES has received 3166 calls for help in past 24 hours and more than 250 schools across the state are closed.
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