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Deluge sweeps south to Gold Coast as flash flooding sparks more rescues

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Two people have been rescued from up a tree and another found on the roof of a shed as life threatening flash flooding swept through Tallebudgera and Currumbin valleys on the southern Gold Coast.

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Rescue crews Monday morning have swamped the Tallebudgera, Currumbin Creek and Palm Beach area responding to calls for help as the emergency flash flood warning followed the southerly movement of heavy rain.

The rescues come as police this morning said they were fed up with drivers recklessly taking on roads and crossings swollen with floodwater, and have begun targeting drivers deliberately driving into flooded Gold Coast streets.

Further south, the NSW city of Lismore is facing its worst-ever flood crisis as more towns in the Northern Rivers region have been evacuated and put on major flood alert.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Assistant Commissioner Kevin Walsh said calls were rushing in from people who were either trapped in vehicles or are seeing rising flood waters in an around their homes, taking the number of swift water rescues statewide to more than 550.

“It’s a fast-moving dynamic environment we’ve got currently and will be like this for the rest of the day, at least,” Walsh said.

“We have a number of rescues backed up.”

Emergency services have brought in support for the Gold Coast from north of the flood disaster zone and crews with swift water capability from interstate.

“Since this event began, it’s peaking at around 9,000 jobs for the SES, and 565 incidents across the state where fire and rescue swift water crews have had to respond to people trapped in water,” Walsh said.

“I know people get sick and tired of hearing if its flooded forget it, it’s the most important thing that people can do when there’s water like this.”

Gold Coast Acting Chief Superintendent Rhys Wildman said police were targeting drivers deliberately taking on flooded waterways.

“I’ve instructed my staff to take a very hard line. Anyone who deliberately disobeys signage or drives in flooded waterways will look at a range of enforcement actions around those individuals,” Wildman said.

He said the District Disaster Management group had been stood up overnight, along with local area disaster management teams, to respond to the emergency.

Evacuation assembly points have opened for residents needing to leave their homes.

“We have both layers of disaster management response and recovery now here on the coast,” Wildman said.

“The real challenge is that once the weather clears, people will think I’m right to get out on the roads and get around. I really request our community that if you do not need to be out on the roads today don’t, stay at home. We still have physical dangers on our roadways even if flash flooding dangers pass.”

All beaches remain closed across the city. Emergency warnings remain in place for northern Gold Coast suburbs along the Albert and Logan River, where floodwaters are continuing to rise.

More than 2,289 homes and businesses are currently without power on the Gold Coast, with the majority of properties blacked out in Coolangatta, Tallebudgera Valley and Yatala.

Around 70 roads across the city have been impacted by flash flooding and debris.

The flood emergency in northern NSW is widening with three rivers now at major risk of breaking their banks, as the city of Lismore faces an “unprecedented” crisis as thousands evacuate amid rapidly rising waters.

About 15,000 people have been evacuated across the north coast and the entire Lismore CBD is inundated after days of unrelenting torrential rain that led to the Wilson River breaching its levee overnight.

People were caught unawares by the speed of the rapidly rising waters, with some forced to take refuge on the roofs of their inundated homes overnight.

The ADF arrived in Lismore on Monday morning to help the stretched emergency response crews which includes the RFS, NSW Fire and Rescue, police and ambulance, and State Emergency Services volunteers.

The town recorded 181mm of rain in 30 minutes on Monday and a severe thunderstorm warning is current for intense rainfall across the northern rivers.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued a major flood warning at 9.42am on Monday for the Tweed River, adding to major warnings already in place for the Wilson and Clarence rivers as large swathes of the northern rivers grappled with the crisis.

Near the Tweed River, the BOM said major flooding was occurring at Tumbulgum, Mueillumbah and Chinderah, with further rain forecast for Monday, stoking fears waters could rise even higher.

“This has caused major flooding at Tumbulgum and Murwillumbah, with further rises possible during Monday. At Chinderah, major flooding is occurring on the high tide,” it said.

Lismore remains the focus of the emergency, with reports of people are climbing onto their roofs, and an elderly couple is stuck in a roof cavity as water rises around them.

The town is bracing for its worst-ever flood crisis that will surpass the devastation caused in 1954 and 1974, with Wilsons River set to reach around 14.20 metres on Monday afternoon, prompting fears of unparalleled inundation in the area.

The river’s previous record high of 12.27 metres was registered in 1954.

Lismore Mayor Steve Krieg described the situation as “unprecedented”, “very dangerous and life-threatening”.

South Murwillumbah has also been evacuated as roads are cut and the only way out is by boat.

The SES ordered the town of Mullumbimby to evacuate on Monday morning, with the area threatened by rapidly rising floodwaters from the Brunswick River.

One man died when his LandCruiser was carried away by floodwaters on the Central Coast, north of Sydney, on Friday and another remains missing in floodwaters in Lismore.

 

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