I walked out with my bag above my head PM and NSW premier meet with Sydney flood victims as weather event moves north
The prime minister and New South Wales premier have met with flood victims in Sydney as the freak weather system causes havoc in the city’s north.
Anthony Albanese and Dominic Perrottet spoke to people impacted by floods in the Hawkesbury region, where water levels remain high and many residents have been left without a home.
One woman told the pair how she and her family escaped with only the clothes on her back.
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“I walked out with my bag above my head,” the woman said.
“Our house is always the first to go under, this is our third flood this year.
“It doesn’t get any easier even when you’ve been through it so many times.”
NSW Hunter region inundated by floodwaters
It comes as the NSW Hunter region is battered by rainfall and rising floodwaters with more than 6000 people who have been told to evacuate now and another 5000 have been told to prepare to leave their homes.
More than 50 evacuation warnings across NSW affect 85,000 people.
Towns along the Hunter River are the main focus for emergency services today as the waterway is expected to reach higher than 13 metres, which is worse than the floods in March for the region.
Suburbs including Wollombi, Bulga and Broke have already been cut off by floodwaters.
A local pub in the region, the Wollombi Tavern, is just one of the many businesses impacted by the floodwaters after the Wollombi Creek peaked at over 14 metres this morning.
“Floods are just an insidious thing,” publican Chris Books said.
“You live in this area, it is prone to flooding. The tavern is the hub of Wollombi.
“We are a tourist town, without the tavern, we won’t get the tourists, without the tourists we won’t exist.
“As soon as the water goes down, we can pull beers.”
Some parts of the NSW Mid North Coast have experienced 180 millimetres of rainfall in the past 24 hours.
“We saw quite a lot of rainfall in the upper reaches of that catchment yesterday and that’s now making its way down through the river system,” meteorologist Jane Golding said.
Golding warned water levels around Tuggerah Lakes are continuing to rise with Long Jetty becoming an area of flood concern.
Weather event impacts water supplies
Sydney Water has asked people to conserve supplies, as water filtration systems have been hit by the bad weather and floods.
Suburbs in Sydney’s west are impacted.
“Heavy rain and floods have swept high volumes of leaves, dirt, and other debris into the raw water catchment, making the usual demand for drinking water more difficult to meet,” Sydney Water said.
“This has posed significant challenges for our Orchard Hills water filtration plant.
“As such, we are asking residents in this catchment area to reduce their water usage while our filtration systems are working harder than usual to filter and clean the raw water to make it safe.”
The water is safe to drink.
Residents urged not to drive through floodwaters
Perrottet and Albanese have implored people to stop driving through floodwaters.
“Time and again, we see people drive through floodwaters,” Perrottet said.
“The perspective that you have is different to reality.”
“I reiterate the fact that people need to listen to the advice, need to not take risks, when asked to evacuate, make sure they do exactly that,” Albanese added.
Perrottet urged people not to assume they do not need to follow other advice given on flooding.
“Simply because you’ve had a flood event in the past, it can be very different to today,” he said.
“So please don’t have your past experience inform your current behaviour.”
Flood payments begin tomorrow
Albanese announced that the federal government’s flood recovery payments would kick in from 2pm tomorrow for 23 local government areas.
“I am very pleased that the Commonwealth is cooperating so well with the New South Wales government,” Albanese said.
“It is a seamless relationship that we have, which is what people want to see at a time like this.”
Flood emergency is ‘far from over’
NSW Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke has warned the state’s flood disaster is far from over as the rain moves north.
“The rain is starting to ease across Sydney, and those floodwaters are just starting to recede,” she said.
But she said many evacuation orders are still in place.
“Whilst it may be tempting for people to return home, we’re really asking you to respect those evacuation orders,” Cooke said.
“There’s a reason why they are in place at this time and that is to protect you.”
She also warned that top-heavy trees are at risk of toppling over with the soil completely sodden.