Dozens of people and pets were rescued by helicopter as floodwaters swept across west-central New South Wales after thousands were forced to flee rising waters.
Eighteen people and 14 pets, including dogs, cats and a tortoise, were rescued by the State Emergency Service (NSW SES) from the LifeFlight helicopter from 5am this morning morning.
Large swathes of western New South Wales reported more than 80mm of rainfall in the 24 hours to Monday, leading to further flooding in many areas.
Residents in low-lying areas of Canowindra have received urgent evacuation warnings due to high river levels and dangerous flash floods. An evacuation center has been opened at Canowindra Public School in Tilga Street.
The nearby town of Molong has become completely cut off by the floodwaters and residents cannot evacuate due to flash floods. Residents have been urged to take refuge on higher ground as emergency services battle to rescue stranded residents.
A helicopter was dispatched to assist state emergency services with a number of rescues, including medical recoveries.
Emergency crews were called to help six vehicles in flood waters in Woodstock after a bridge was washed out.
Two children were lucky enough to escape in Albury on the NSW/Victoria border when the SES were able to get them out of harm’s way as they played in a storm drain.
In the past 24 hours, NSW SES has responded to 33 flood rescues and 462 requests for assistance.
Residents are urged to stay alert to evacuation warnings to avoid being cut off by fast-moving floodwaters. The silver lining for flood-weary residents is the cancellation of severe thunderstorm warnings, which were expected to bring sudden heavy rain and the possibility of flash flooding.
The thunderstorms have weakened central and northern New South Wales, and there are no more severe thunderstorms in New South Wales and the ACT.
New South Wales floods
Evacuation orders have been put in place for parts of central NSW.
Lower parts of Gooloogong are now receiving evacuation orders due to major flooding, with an evacuation center set up at Gooloogong Country Club on Nelligan Lane.
The majority of Forbes, including the city’s CBD, northwest, west, northeast, east and south are ordered to evacuate by 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Flooding is expected to peak for Forbes on Thursday, with water levels reaching 10.80 meters according to the BOM.
Residents in lower parts of Cowra have also been told to evacuate, including those in the caravan park.
Senior meteorologist Jonathan Gow said Sunrise new flood warnings were issued for parts of New South Wales on Monday morning.
“There will be a lot more water coming through these river systems, so keep an eye out for those warnings from your local SES,” Mr Gow said.
He said the heaviest overnight rainfall occurred on the western slopes, particularly communities around Bathurst in west central New South Wales.
“Unfortunately Forbes saw 120mm yesterday so we are seeing more flooding along the Lachlan River today,” Mr Gow said.
“We may also see major flooding in Bathurst… the worst is over, but flooding can take days or even weeks to subside.”
Meanwhile, a rescue is underway for a person who became trapped in their vehicle in Alectown early Monday morning. He contacted NSW SES for help just before 4am.
NSW Police and RFS staff located him but were unable to access him. An Australian Defense Force helicopter was deployed to assist in the rescue.
Major flooding continues in Warren and along Molong Creek in Molong, which peaked at 4.70 meters (estimated) around 4:15 a.m. Monday.
For emergency help in floods and storms call the NSW SES on 132 500. In life-threatening situations call triple-0 (000) immediately.
Despite wet conditions across much of the state, Sydney can expect a high of 29 degrees today with 60% morning showers.
The Bureau has issued minor to major flood warnings for the Murray and Edward rivers in Victoria.
Residents of Albury, Corowa, Yarrawonga, Tocumwal, Echuca, Moama, Torrumbarry, Barham, Swan Hill, Wakool Junction, Boundary Bend, Euston, Mildura, Wentworth, Deniliquin, Stevens Weir and Moulamein should continue to monitor weather alerts.
Mr Gow said Victoria saw 40-60mm of rain overnight on Sunday.
He said there were further warnings with moderate flooding likely in Wangaratta and North East Victoria.
Severe thunderstorms also moved across the Mornington Peninsula on Sunday.
“There is further flooding in parts of northern Victoria. Trees or grass cannot absorb the overnight rate and that is why we are also seeing it pouring into rivers,” Mr Gow said.
As the rain begins to ease on Monday morning, Melbourne will experience a high of 20C before temperatures drop to 14C on Tuesday.
Snow is expected to fall in mountainous regions by the middle of the week as unusually cool weather grips the state.
Meanwhile, thousands of students across South Australia will be unable to attend school due to storm damage following weekend power outages.
The Department of Education has announced that more than 50 public nursery, primary and secondary schools in Adelaide neighborhoods will remain closed on Monday.
The department said it was working with the SACE board to reschedule grade 12 exams.
This list was due to change on Sunday evening, but it does not include private schools.
More than 160,000 properties were without power this weekend after thunderstorms hit the state. As of Monday, more than 34,000 homes are still without power after widespread storms and lightning downed power lines across the state.
The SES is currently responding to approximately 260 calls.
Crews have been busy over the past week, with around 2,000 calls for help made to the SES.
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens told The Advertiser SA Power Networks was working “furiously” to fix downed power lines overnight, which could mean many schools slated for closure could open.
He urged parents to watch social communications closely.
While most of the country is battling heavy rain, parts of Queensland continue to face a severe heatwave.
The Bureau predicts high temperatures in the mid 30s and low temperatures in the mid 20s are expected over the Peninsula District through at least next weekend.
Places likely to be affected include Weipa in the northern tip of Queensland.