SES volunteers respond to hundreds of calls during storms

Louise Settree sent us this photo this morning:
Louise Settree sent us this photo this morning: "Roundabout at Ballina Heights atm, no in or out on the main highway or into town." Photo Contributed Contributed

UPDATE 6.50PM: SES volunteers were called to 249 jobs over a 48 hour period as the region was battered by heavy rainfall and strong winds.

Richmond Tweed SES spokeswoman Janet Pettit said 11 of those call outs were flood rescues.

The most serious incident involved the winch rescue of a 70 year old man from a tree in Byron Creek after he had attempted to drive through flood water over Booyong Rd in Nashua.

However Ms Pettit said most of the call outs were storm related and involved leaking roofs and tree damage.

"I think we dodged a bullet because we didn't get the rainfall we expected and the winds weren't as bad as expected," she said.

Despite repeated warnings not to drive in flood water, Ms Pettit said people were still unnecessarily risking their lives.

"Definitely don't drive through flood water," she said.

"It's our major cause of death with any major storm or flood event.

"It's so important for people who are driving on the roads (during storms) to drive with care because there will be potholes and damage to the road."

During severe storm and flood events, people are encouraged to listen to their local radio station and phone the NSW SES on 13 25 500 if they need assistance.

 

UPDATE 8.30am: FLASH flooding has affected many areas of the Northern Rivers overnight.

Lismore was battered with heavy rain between 6pm-10pm last night, causing flash flooding to areas such as Wyrallah Road near Mega Pizza, and Ballina Road at the Brewster Street Traffic Lights.

This morning reader Louise Settree sent us these photos of the roundabout at Ballina Heights, which she said is flooded so badly there is no way in or out on the main highway or into town.

The SES reminds people never to drive, ride or walk through flood waters.

Check out a list of roads closed or affected at My Roads Info.

Get latest weather statistics from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Louise Settree sent us this photo this morning:
Louise Settree sent us this photo this morning: "Roundabout at Ballina Heights atm, no in or out on the main highway or into town." Photo Contributed Contributed

The BoM said that up to 200 millimetres of rain fell during the past 32 hours to 8am this morning.

The Wilsons River levels upstream of Lismore peaked at a lower level than previously expected so river height predictions for Lismore and downstream have been lowered.

While rainfall has eased since midnight, BoM is still predicting the Wilsons River at Lismore will reach moderate flood level.

The river is predicted to reach peak near 7.7 metres around 1pm today with moderate flooding

Meanwhile, the Tweed River at Murwillumbah peaked around 3am at about 3.2 metres with minor flooding.

It is now below minor flood level and falling slowly, the BoM said.

Louise Settree sent us this photo this morning:
Louise Settree sent us this photo this morning: "Roundabout at Ballina Heights atm, no in or out on the main highway or into town." Photo Contributed Contributed

 

UPDATE 7.07am: ALTHOUGH the East Coast Low that hammered the Northern Rivers has now moved on there remains a moderate flood warning for the Wilsons River at Lismore and a minor flood warning for the Richmond River.

This flood warning was issued at 4.09am today.

Up to 189mm of rain has fallen during the past 24 hours to midnight.

River levels upstream of Lismore have peaked at a lower level that previously expected and river height predictions for Lismore and downstream have been lowered.

River heights are expected to peak at Lismore at around 7.7 metres at around 1pm today, 12.5 metres at Kyogle at 11am, 3.7 metres at Coraki at around 11am and 3.2 metres at Bungawalbyn at 11am.

The low that tore though the Northern Rivers yesterday and overnight has now weakened and moved south.

Alstonville copped an absolute bucketing with 236mm falling from 9am Friday to 4am Saturday.

At around 10pm last night residents living in low lying areas in the north of Byron Shire were issued with a flood evacuation warning which was cancelled at around 6am.

At the height of the storm last night wind gusts of up to 89km/h were recorded at Cape Byron.

UPDATE 12.03am: AFTER torrential rain came the wind with gusts of 89km/h buffeting Cape Byron and 93km/h at Yamba.

The wind mainly impacted coastal areas although Lismore Airport recorded a gust of 61km/h late yesterday afternoon.

Conditions caused several power outages mainly in the coastal corridor from Tweed Heads to Coffs Harbour.

At least one car went over the embankment at Coolamon Scenic Drive near Coorabell as water and debris made driving difficult.

 

UPDATE 5.25pm, May 1: SINCE 9am, 92mm of rain has fallen at Alstonville, 64mm at Lismore and 55mm at Ballina according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Meanwhile, the Wilsons River at Lismore is currently at 3.44m and rising Tweed River at Bray Park Weir is sitting at 2.75m.

According to the BoM rainfall predictions, areas in the Northern Rivers could receive between 100-150mm of rain.

Some roads in the area are closed or affected by water over the road.

Wilsons River at Lismore
Wilsons River at Lismore Hamish Broome

 

UPDATE 3.55pm, May 1: A MINOR flood warning has been issued for the Richmond and Wilsons River at Lismore.

The Bureau of Meteorology said that, as of 3pm, up to 33 millimetres of rain has fallen during the past 6 hours.

Further heavy rain, in the order of 80 to 150 millimetres with heavier local falls, is forecast for the next 12 to 24 hours, and is expected to cause the Wilsons River at Lismore to exceed its minor flood level early Saturday morning.

At this stage it is not possible to predict the flood peak because of uncertainty over how much more rain will fall, the BoM said.

At this stage, however, the river is expected to exceed minor flood level (4.2 metres AHD) at Lismore around 3am Saturday morning, with further rises expected with predicted heavy rain.

FloodSafe advice is available at www.ses.nsw.gov.au

For emergency assistance call the SES on telephone number 132 500.

For life threatening emergencies, call 000 immediately.

For the latest weather forecast see www.bom.gov.au/nsw/forecasts/

 

Roads closed or affected

Some roads are affected across the region at the present time. Check northernrivers.myroadinfo.com.au for more info.

In Ballina Shire, the following roads are closed:

  • Coolgardie Road at Kays Road Intersection
  • Houghlahans Creek Road Causeways
  • Lindendale Road at Marom Creek
  • Marom Creek Road at Gum Creek
  • Pearces Creek Hall Road at Pearces Creek
  • Friday Hut Road at Kirklands Crossing (Added 5pm)

There is water over the following Ballina Shire roads, please exercise extreme caution:

  • Ballina CBD at various locations
  • Boundary Road at Marom Creek
  • Dalwood Road at Gum Creek Weir
  • Marom Creek Road at Gum Creek
  • Old Bangalow Road downstream from Tintenbar Road to Tamarind Drive
  • Ross Lane at Deadmans Creek
  • Wardell Road (entire length)
  • Eltham Road at Maguires Creek Bridge (Added 5pm)

 

Broken Head on Friday.
Broken Head on Friday. Hamish Broome

 

UPDATE 3.45pm, May 1: NSW Regional Director of the Bureau of Meteorology, Barry Hanstrum, has said that people living along the coast are to receive the heaviest rain and strongest winds as the intense low pressure system moves southwards.

The East Coast Low, is expected to move southwards along the QLD coast and into NSW early on Saturday, before weakening and moving away from the coast on Sunday.

"Weather conditions over the northern New South Wales coast are already deteriorating and forecast to be at their worst overnight," Mr Hanstrum said.

"Northern Rivers and adjacent districts will see heavy rain and thunderstorms with the potential for flash flooding, damaging winds gusting up to 100km/h, and very heavy surf.

"Falls in the range of 150 to 200mm are expected for northern NSW during this event, with localised falls over 350mm possible.

"Water levels could exceed the highest tide of the year during Friday evening's high tide, mostly near the Queensland border," he said.


Flood Watches were issued on Wednesday, and are current for NSW coastal rivers from the border to Nelson Bay for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Mr Hanstrum said the Bureau is acutely aware of ongoing clean-up operations in NSW, and mindful of the impact further rain could have in affected areas.

"Further rainfall is expected over catchments that experienced flooding last week, with renewed flooding still possible given the saturated landscape. However, we don't expect to see the extreme rainfall totals and destructive winds that we saw in these areas during the last event.

"Thunderstorms are possible along the NSW coast, as far south as the Illawarra region, and these could lead to localised heavy falls," he said.

The public are urged to stay tuned for updated forecasts and warnings, follow the advice of local emergency services, and in particular do not drive, ride or walk through flood water.

 

UPDATE 2.45pm, May 1: IN LIGHT of the wet and wild weather, Byron Shire Council director of infrastructure services, Phil Holloway, is urging residents and visitors to drive to conditions and check My Road Info before venturing out.

"The severe weather warning and east coast low, is likely to cause some road damage with potholes, see trees fall over roads and drains struggle to cope with large amounts of water," Mr Holloway said.

"Similarly, very heavy surf conditions could see our beaches closed.

"Whilst our beach profiles are healthy, we could see some coastal erosion. The powerful surf is also likely to make conditions unsafe and restrict beach access.

"It is best to avoid the beach over the next few days, but if you do go, check the tides and try to avoid the high tide."

Water is currently over Friday Hut Road at Kirkland's Crossing and all sportfields are closed, council said. 

Council crews have also inspected pumping stations and major drains, and yesterday removed a tree over the road near the Crystal Castle.

Residents are also cautioned to stay away from swollen creeks and waterways and not cross flooded causeways or roads with water lying over the top.


UPDATE 2.25pm, May 1: WITH another East Coast Low bringing more dangerous conditions to the State's North and Mid North Coast, Marine Rescue NSW is strongly recommending boaters be cautious. 

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued Strong Wind or Gale Warnings for today and tomorrow. 

On shore, heavy rain and thunderstorms, which could lead to flash flooding, are forecast to intensify today over the Northern Rivers forecast district, peaking overnight. 

Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Stacey Tannos said these conditions represented a serious hazard to anyone on coastal or river waters.

"Boaters should make safety their highest priority at all times but particularly in the kinds of conditions we are currently experiencing," he said.

"Do not put your own safety at risk - or the safety of the emergency crews who will be called to your rescue should you find yourself in peril.

"If you do not have to be on the water, wait until these conditions subside before you head out."

When better boating weather returns, Marine Rescue NSW reminds skippers to ensure everyone on board always wears a lifejacket.

Boaters should also Log On with their nearest Marine Rescue radio base so that someone responsible knows they are on the water - and can take rescue action in the event of an emergency.

 

Ross Lane, Lennox Head
Ross Lane, Lennox Head Hamish Broome

UPDATE 12.30pm, May 1: ESSENTIAL Energy has several "unplanned interruptions" to power supplies in coastal areas.

The largest is south of ballina, where 126 customers are without power.

It is estimated to be restored by 3pm.

Other power outages have occurred around Gap Rd in Alstonville and at Broken Head and Suffolk Park.

 

UPDATE 12.15pm, May 1: AS the rain continues today, more roads have accumulated water over them and some have been closed.

Roads currently affected, according to My Roads Info, are:

 

Ballina Shire Council

Closed:

  • Pearces Creek Hall Road at Pearces Creek
  • Lindendale Road at Marom Creek

Water over road:

  • Ross Lane
  • Dalwood Road at Gum Creek Weir
  • Wardell Road 
  • Houghlahans Creek Road at causeways
  • Friday Hut Road at Kirklands Crossing
  • Boundary Road at Marom Creek
  • Marom Creek Road at Gum Creek

 

Broken Head on Friday.
Broken Head on Friday. Hamish Broome

UPDATE 11am, May 1: HEAVY rain and thunderstorms forecast for the North Coast are expected to peak overnight, the Bureau of Meteorology has said.

In a new severe weather warning, issued a few minutes ago, the Bureau says the rain and thunderstorms are expected to intensify throughout the day, potentially leading to flash flooding in parts of the region.

An East Coast Low is forming within a trough off the southern Queensland coast and is expected to be sitting off the Northern Rivers by early tomorrow morning. It is predicted to continue moving south, reaching the Mid North Coast by Sunday.

While the strongest rainfall was expected overnight, the Bureau says the rain is likely to intensify again tomorrow morning.

A flood watch for the North Coast was reissued this morning with the Tweed, Brunswick, and Richmond/Wilsons valleys all facing a greater than 70% chance of moderate to major flooding.

The low is expected to bring damaging winds blowing at about 60km/h and gusting up to 100km/h - faster than previously expected. Those winds are expected to start hitting Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast tonight. The coastal strip faces the worst buffeting, but the winds are expected to reach as far inland as the Northern Tablelands.

The Bureau is also warning of localised damage and coastal erosion on the Northern Rivers and parts of the Mid-North Coast from very heavy surf, also expected to develop tonight and into Saturday.

"Beach conditions in these areas could be dangerous and people should stay well away from the surf and surf exposed areas," the Bureau says.

The State Emergency Service advises that people should:

  • Move vehicles under cover or away from trees.
  • Secure or put away loose items around your house, yard and balcony.
  • Keep clear of fallen power lines.
  • Don't drive, ride or walk through flood water.
  • Keep clear of creeks and storm drains.
  • If you are trapped by flash flooding, seek refuge in the highest available place and ring 000 if you need rescue.

For emergency help in floods and storms, ring your local SES Unit on 132 500.

 

 

Clouds over East Lismore.
Clouds over East Lismore. Hamish Broome

UPDATE 10.15am, May 1: SURF Life Saving NSW is urging all coastal users to take care this weekend as this second low pressure system off the coast has prompted the Bureau of Meteorology to issue a dangerous surf warning.

South-Easterly swells with a peak of around three metres are expected along Northern NSW coasts by Friday afternoon, with seas of the same size forecast for the central and southern parts of the state forecast for Saturday.

Conditions are expected to gradually ease throughout the weekend with the large swells anticipated to drop by Monday.

With the official patrolling season for volunteer lifesavers ending last weekend, NSW Life Saving Manger Andy Kent has urged coastal users to take extra time to assess the conditions before heading out.

"Please take the time to check the latest forecast before leaving home as we have seen over recent weeks the weather can change rapidly especially along the coast," Mr Kent said.

"While we would advise against rockfishing over the next few days due to the dangerous surf warning, if you do choose to go out we encourage you to take precautions such as letting family or friends know your plans and always wear a lifejacket." 

Hamish Broome

 

General Safety Tips During Dangerous Surf Conditions: 

  • Avoid rock fishing and water activities on exposed beaches/rock-shelves.
  • Only swim at patrolled beaches, between the red & yellow flags.
  • Check the official Bureau of Meteorology (BOM)forecast before undertaking rock fishing and water activities.
  • Boaties should seek advice from Marine Rescue NSW and always wear a lifejacket.
  • See the Beachsafe Website for patrolled locations/times and rock fishing safety information.
  • If witnessing an in-water emergency dial Triple Zero - Police.

 

IMPENDING DELUGE: Lagoon grass from the Goonellabah ridge
IMPENDING DELUGE: Lagoon grass from the Goonellabah ridge Hamish Broome

UPDATE 9.45am, May 1: AS the wet weather across the region intensifies today, some roads have already started collecting water.

My Road Info has listed these roads as having water over them and asks motorists to proceed with caution:

 

Ballina Shire Council

  • Ross Lane
  • Pearces Creek Hall Road at Pearces Creek
  • Lindendale Road at Marom Creek
  • Houghlahans Creek Road at causeways
  • Friday Hut Road at Kirklands Crossing
  • Boundary Road at Marom Creek

 

Forecast rainfall for the region today, taken from the Bureau of Meteorology website.
Forecast rainfall for the region today, taken from the Bureau of Meteorology website. Bureau of Meteorology

UPDATE 9am, May 1: RAINFALL is already starting to collect on low-lying roads following scattered heavy rain over night, with motorists advised to proceed with caution.

Ross Lane at Lennox Head has water over it, while at Marom Creek both Boundary Rd and Lindendale Rd are also covered.

No roads have been closed yet.

Richmond-Tweed SES media officer Janet Pettit said local units had responded to 18 jobs so far this morning, mainly around the Ballina area.

Most were related to fallen branches and leaky rooves.

An unpredictable East Coast Low is now predicted to form off the southeast Queensland coast today, with damaging winds and heavy rain worsening over the next several hours.

The ABC has reported spot falls of up to 400mm in some places.

The Bureau of Meteorology forecast rain chart shows the heaviest rain predicted along the Gold Coast and Tweed Heads, with slightly less rain further south.

A gale warning is in place for the Byron Coast with wind gusts of up to 90kmh.

Coastal erosion could also be an issue, with large and damaging surf predicted.

 

The Bureau of Meteorology radar at 8.21am this morning.
The Bureau of Meteorology radar at 8.21am this morning. Bureau of Meteorology

UPDATE 8am, May 1: ALSTONVILLE and Teven have received the most rain over the past 24 hours, with 77mm recorded at Alstonville and 85mm at Houghlahans Creek.

There has also been 50mm at Tuckurimba and 53mm at Mullumbimby.

With the rain continuing today, Ballina Shire Council's acting general manager, John Truman, said teams were on standby.

He said there was currently water over several roads in the shire, including The Coast Rd at Boulder Beach, Lindendale Rd at Marom Creek, Ross Lane at Lennox Head and Friday Hut Rd at Kirklands Crossing.

"Council field staff will continue to monitor the road situation," Mr Truman said.

"Please be aware that conditions can change quickly, so please exercise caution."

Mr Truman also warned that the weather could cause coastal erosion, impacting access tracks and dunes.

The council has advised people to stay away from the beaches.

Flights in and out of the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport are continuing as normal.

For more information about road closures, visit www.myroadinfo.com.au.

 

Lightning over Casino, March 21, 2015.
Lightning over Casino, March 21, 2015. Dee Hartin

INITIAL STORY, 5.30am, May 1: THE Northern Rivers is in for a day of storms, flash flooding, damaging winds, and heavy surf as a trough off the coast gives birth to an east coast low, the weather bureau warns.

In its latest weather warning, issued just after 4.30am, the Bureau of Meteorology says the low is expected to form within the deepening trough, which is sitting off the coast near the Queensland border.

The weather system is expected to pound the Northern Rivers today and tomorrow before heading south to torment the Mid North Coast on Sunday.

The Bureau says Northern Rivers residents can expect 60km/h winds, gusting up to 90km/h later today. Gale warnings have been issued for the Byron and Coffs coasts for today and tomorrow.

Heavy surf fuelled by the developing low is expected to hit late today, potentially eroding beaches along the Northern NSW coast. The Bureau warns the heavy surf will mean dangerous conditions and "people should stay well away from the surf and surf exposed areas".

Heavy rain and thunderstorms are expected throughout the day, intensifying as the trough deepens. A flood watch remains in place for the North Coast with the Bureau saying there is a greater than 70% chance of moderate to major flooding in the Tweed, Brunswick, and Richmond/Wilsons catchments.

While all rivers on the region currently remain well below flood level, the Bureau says the heavy rain is likely to cause dangerous flash flooding across the Northern Rivers.

The State Emergency Service advises that people should:

  • Move vehicles under cover or away from trees.
  • Secure or put away loose items around your house, yard and balcony.
  • Keep clear of fallen power lines.
  • Don't drive, ride or walk through flood water.
  • Keep clear of creeks and storm drains.
  • If you are trapped by flash flooding, seek refuge in the highest available place and ring 000 if you need rescue.

For emergency help in floods and storms, ring your local SES Unit on 132 500.


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