16 November 2022

UPDATED: One woman found dead, one person missing, evacuations continue as Lachlan floodwaters surge downstream

| Edwina Mason
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Two people are missing after floodwaters surged through the Central West town of Eugowra on Tuesday, leaving a trail of devastation. Image: Chris Watson, Farmpix Photography.

UPDATE: Police have recovered the body of a woman reported missing in floodwaters in Eugowra.

Officers from Central West Police District began searching for a 60-year-old woman when she was unable to be contacted by family members, who were concerned due to severe flooding in the area.

About 11 am today, Wednesday 16 November 2022, police searching Eugowra located the body of a woman at Parkes and Lachlan streets.

While she is yet to be formally identified, it is believed to be the missing woman.

A crime has been established, and police are conducting inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

A report will be prepared for the information of the coroner.

10 AM: Two people are missing and an immediate evacuation order is in place at Forbes as residents throughout the NSW Central West continue to battle the worst flooding in the region in 70 years.

Worst affected so far is the small town of Eugowra, between Cowra and Forbes, after flash flooding engulfed the town with two sudden and intense surges of water washing away houses, knocking over structures and leaving destruction residents liken to a war zone.

The huge waves have left 80 per cent of the residents homeless and a multiagency search is underway for Dianne Smith, 60, who was last heard from on Monday morning when she called a relative from her car in the historic town as it went under.

READ ALSO Life’s a tinny out in the land where flooding is a way of life

Also missing is Ljubisa “Les” Vugec, 85, who was last seen at his home on Evelyn Street, Eugowra about 9 am on Monday.

Police have issued geo-targeted messages as they appeal for public assistance to locate both residents.

More than 160 emergency personnel in the area have responded to requests for assistance, including 155 flood rescues since yesterday morning. Most of these flood rescues were undertaken using the 12 aviation assets deployed to the area.

These flood rescues included transporting a cat and a couple of dogs to safety.

This comes after a weekend of heavy rain across the state, much of it concentrated in the Lachlan River catchment, which was already experiencing major flooding before the weekend’s burst of wet and stormy weather arrived.

Overnight floodwaters peaked at Gooloogong, between Cowra and Forbes, and residents are now in the process of assessing damage. The town’s historic Log Cabin has survived the flooding. Photo: Chris Watson, Farmpix Photography.

Forbes collected 118 mm of rain during the 24 hours to 9 am on Monday, which was its heaviest daily rainfall in records dating back to 1875.

Further east, Canowindra’s 120 mm over the same period was its highest daily total since 1956.

This sudden influx of water caused river levels to rise rapidly, exacerbating major flooding along the Lachlan River.

In response to Sunday’s rain and ongoing water overflows from Wyangala Dam, the Lachlan River at Cowra hit 14 metres at 8:30 pm on Monday and by 10:15 pm, it had risen to 14.19 metres.

This is the first time Cowra has seen a 14-metre flood since 1952 and the closure of the Cowra Bridge left the town divided until early Wednesday morning.

READ ALSO New batch of rescue paramedics welcomed in Cowra

The Lachlan River at Nanami, just north of Gooloogong, was expected to reach 14.60 metres early today with major flooding and residents are warned further rises are possible.

The Lachlan River at Forbes Iron Bridge is expected to exceed the major flood level later today with expectations it may reach 10.8 metres. This is on par with the site’s record flood peak from June 1952.

A prolonged major flood peak is expected at Forbes and may continue through to the weekend.

Residents at Gooloogong, are in the throes of assessing damage to their small community with the SES enroute.

The village’s famous Log Cabin – recently restored through State Government funding – has reportedly survived the floodwater peak of 13.7 metres.

Local Landcare coordinator Tracee Burke, who lives near Gooloogong, said the floodwaters appeared to be abating.

“I am looking out the window at flooding from the Lachlan and it is higher than I have seen it,” she said.

“Apparently it’s the highest level here since 1952 as per lots of places,” she added.

“We are an island at the moment and can’t get out,” Tracee told Region, “but by tomorrow we should be able to head out and take a very long way to our other farm to check on the cattle up there.

“We moved them into a good paddock though on Sunday in case we couldn’t get to them for a week or so,” she added. “Fingers and toes are crossed that we don’t get too much more rain soon.”

Wyangala Dam is sitting at 103.1 per cent capacity and 50,0000 megalitres are due to be released sometime today.

Forbes SES commander Rocky Walshaw said they had done what they could to prepare for the oncoming water.

“We’ve got emergency service personnel on each side of the town,” he said.

Hundreds of people and more than 1000 properties are covered by an evacuation order for the town issued early yesterday morning, after flash flooding caused the river to rise more quickly than expected.

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