NSW Floods: fears for Grafton as Lismore waters drop

Sydney commuters face a wet but not wild morning on the roads. In NSW’s north flood levels are receding in Lismore — but Grafton is now in the firing line.

Wet conditions are predicted to continue in Sydney today, as floodwater begins to recede in Lismore but is still rising in other areas of the Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast.
For Sydney, wet conditions will continue, with “shower activity and possible storms” about this Thursday.

“Were expecting 10 to 20mm of rainfall today falling across Sydney and we do expect showers to continue into Friday between 20 to 30mm,” BOM forecaster Jenny Sturrock said.

“Unfortunately we are experiencing a showery flow due to the trough and low pressure system sitting offshore … Saturday will also see a shower or two, but the good news is Sunday will see an easing in the trend.”

Meanwhile water is beginning to recede in Lismore but major flooding is expected to worsen in parts of the Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast.

The Bureau of Meteorology shared just after 2.30am on Thursday that waters on the Wilsons River at Lismore had peaked following renewed torrential rain in the area over the past few days.

“A major flood peak of 11.40m was seen at 5pm (on) Wed 30 March,” the BOM wrote online.

“River levels to remain above the levee height Thur morning.”

As of 4:45am on Thursday, the river had fallen to 10.96 metres.

During the devastating flooding last month, river heights reached more than 14.4 metres within the northern NSW city.

Major flooding is still underway within Lismore and other northern NSW towns including Grafton, where floodwaters are expected to peak on Thursday morning.

“The river level is likely to peak near 5.70 metres around 8am Thursday with major flooding,” the BOM wrote.

BOM forecaster Jenny Sturrock said while it was “good news” no further rainfall was expected in the Northern Rivers, communities on the Mid North Coast were now in the firing line for heavier falls.

“Unfortunately the Mid North Coast is expecting significant rainfall today, river systems there already have major flooding,” Ms Sturrock said.

“The Richmond, Clarence and Bellinger Rivers, those catchments already do have major flood warnings current, but we’re looking at rainfall between 30-50mm widespread across the Mid North Coast region.

“Some areas like Barrington Tops could see up to 80mm especially with thunderstorms expected.”

Coraki and Woodburn are also being watched closely by the SES today as floodwaters seep down from Lismore.

“We’re at the forefront, well prepared for the water to move downstream, there is a lot of intel and mapping underway to see where to warn residents,” an SES spokesman said.

“Those are the main areas expected to be impacted … we have already issued more than 20 evacuation orders and 11 evacuation warnings, and we won‘t hesitate to issue more if necessary.”

More than 911 calls for help were received by the SES across the Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast communities in the 24 hours to 5am today, with the bulk of inquiries coming from Ballina, Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour.

Forty-five flood rescues were carried out but the majority were assisted evacuations “broadly” across flood-affected areas.

“There have been a significant number of flood assistance requests, whether that‘s for sandbagging from volunteer members or assisted evacuations … a lot of work has been done, but a significant stretch of the coast has been impacted … we’re averaging three to four (rescues) for each locality,” the SES spokesman said.

It comes as the search continues for missing aged care nurse Anita Brakel, who disappeared in Lismore on Tuesday evening.

About 26,000 NSW residents have been evacuated across the Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast so far since the renewed flooding began- most recently low lying residents in Southgate, North Macksville, Ulmarra, Brushgrove and Cowper were told to leave last night.

It comes as some residents were prematurely given the all clear to go home on Tuesday and had to be evacuated again, and evacuation alarms in Lismore malfunctioned.

A severe weather warning for high tides and dangerous surf is in place from the Mid North Coast down to NSW’s Far South Coast, stretching from Kempsey down past Eden to the NSW/VIC border.

Wave heights may exceed five metres, according to the BOM, and Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong and Batemans Bay are expected to be worst affected.

Originally published as NSW floods: Water to peak in Grafton today as flood levels drop in Lismore

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