Urgent flood evacuation order for NSW residents: 'DO NOT DELAY'

·3-min read

People in low-lying parts of the NSW central western town of Forbes have been ordered to evacuate ahead of major flooding that's predicted to inundate the district within hours.

The evacuation order was issued by the State Emergency Service at 11.15am on Tuesday, warning residents to evacuate before 9.30pm.

"Floodwaters will progressively close roads and access will be cut so do not delay moving."

"If you remain in the area you will be trapped and it may be too dangerous for SES to rescue you," the local SES warned.

Locals take a look at overflow water spills from Wyangala Dam near the NSW town of Cowra, Monday, November 15, 2021.
The Wyangala Dam has spilled over near the NSW town of Cowra. Source: AAP/Lukas Coch

An evacuation centre has been set up at St Andrews Presbyterian Church for those unable to get to alternative accommodation with family or friends.

The Lachlan River is expected to peak at 10.65 metres in Forbes on Wednesday.

NSW SES deputy zone commander Barry Griffiths said the evacuation order was issued "to try and give the community as much time as they can to evacuate safely and calmly".

SES and Rural Fire Service volunteers are doorknocking and delivering about 10,000 sandbags to residents as well as helping prepare properties.

"We are confident that the actions we are taking at the moment are suitable enough for the predicted flood event, but it is going to be a bit of a waiting game over the next 24 hours. We need to see what the water actually does," Mr Griffiths told the Nine Network.

SES tells people in 800 homes 'prepare to leave' 

Moderate flooding has occurred upstream at Cowra and major flooding occurred at Nanami on Monday night, with the river peaking at more than 12.4 metres.

It was too early to tell how high the river would rise when those floodwaters reached Forbes, the Bureau of Meteorology said on Monday, but the SES warned locals in up to 800 homes to prepare to leave before they hit.

Downstream from Forbes, major flooding is also expected at Cottons Weir and Jemalong.

"One fortunate thing about the floods in western NSW is that they're a slow-moving, evolving event," weather bureau hydrologist Justin Robinson said.

"Hopefully we'll be able to provide them adequate warning and leave time for them to prepare ahead of the floods actually arriving and impacting their personal properties and communities."

The Macquarie, Paroo, Macintyre, Belubula, and Snowy rivers have also flooded, after parts of the state copped a month's worth of rain in days.

"Some of those locations (received) even two to three times what you would get in November," meteorologist Agata Imielska said on Monday.

"Catchments are wet, dams are full. This is exactly what we've been talking about for this season, with the elevated flood risk.

"It is a really important time to really be keeping a very close eye on any flood warnings."

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