26 October 2020

Heavy rain brings floods across southern NSW, dangerous seas along the coast

| Hannah Sparks
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Flash flooding in Tumbarumba. Photo: NSW SES.

The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) has responded to multiple calls for help as heavy rain and strong winds continue to batter the state’s south.

Volunteers rescued a man from his ute trapped by floodwater in Tumbarumba on Saturday.

The small town’s caravan park, sporting oval and surrounding roads were flooded after a downpour of more than 50 millimetres.

The flash flooding damaged fences, culverts and a water main, and left mud on the floors of the oval’s toilet blocks and changing rooms for Snowy Valleys Council staff to clean-up as the water level fell on Monday.


Flood rescue in Tumbarumba. Photo: NSW SES.

“We’ve got a lot of cleaning and repairs to do,” Snowy Valleys Council Mayor James Hayes said.

“We don’t know whether the flood was caused because a lot of the local landscape was burnt [in last summer’s bushfires], so there’s not as much organic matter to soak up the water or because the drought has broken quite spectacularly around here and the ground is saturated.”

Tumbarumba Caravan Park

Tumbarumba Caravan Park flooded. Photo: NSW SES

The area hasn’t experienced a flood as significant as Saturday’s since 2010 and 2012, Cr Hayes said.

“There were cars and bales of silage floating down the main street in my hometown of Adelong (about an hour north of Tumbarumba) in 2010,” Cr Hayes said. “We are in the Snowy Valleys, so it’s quite steep around most of our towns and the water can rise and fall very quickly in the valleys.”

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NSW SES volunteers also responded to a leaking roof at Yass Soldiers Memorial Hall as the rain continued to fall across the weekend.

There was some concern that the leak had caused damage to the Yass and District Historical Society’s archives that are stored in the hall. However, the leak was contained to a stairwell inside the hall, according to NSW SES Yass Unit Commander Rob Bolin.

“We turned up and located the leak, which appeared to be in one of the box gutters in the roof. We put some plastic along the gutter to divert that water away,” Unit Commander Bolin said.

Yass Soldiers Memorial Hall

Roof leak at Yass Soldiers Memorial Hall. Photo: NSW SES Yass Unit

The low-level crossing in Yass was closed on Monday morning as the water in Yass River rose and flooded the road.

Volunteers were also called to leaking roofs on residential homes in Yass and Goulburn and trees that fell in Bookham and on Emma Street near Goulburn East Public School.

Unit Commander Bolin said his volunteers had been preparing for a busy summer since the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) declared a La Niña.

“We’ve been making sure our volunteers are ready and checking our equipment over the past month of two,” he said.


Fallen tree at Bookham. Photo: NSW SES Yass Unit

BOM’s Severe Weather Outlook for October to April predicts an increased risk of flooding for eastern Australia. The current La Niña is likely to bring more rain to eastern Australia, with some drought-affected areas already seeing rainfall deficiencies ease and water storage levels increase.

Showers are predicted across the Southern Tablelands and Snowy Mountains until Thursday. Winds were expected to reach up to between 40 to 60 km/h on Monday in the Snowy Mountains and up to 25 km/h each day until Thursday in both the Snowy Mountains and Southern Tablelands.

The BOM also issued a Hazardous Surf Warning and a Marine Wind Warning for the NSW coastline from the Macquarie Coast to the Eden Coast. The hazardous weather conditions are forecast for today and tomorrow.

Joel Wiseman, SLSNSW Director of Lifesaving, said that conditions along the NSW coast are very dangerous today. He urged the public to exercise extreme caution if they are visiting the coastline.

“Surf conditions from the Macquarie Coast down to the Eden Coast are extreme today and these hazardous conditions will continue into tomorrow. We strongly recommend members of the public not to engage in risky coastal activities such as rock fishing over the next two days. If people put themselves in danger in these conditions, it could be very challenging for our surf lifesavers to rescue them,” Mr Wiseman said.

Call the NSW SES on 132 500 if you have experienced damage from storms, wind, hail or a fallen tree, and if a tree branch is threatening your property or a person’s safety.

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