NSW towns evacuate as flood threat returns | West Central Daily

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People forced from their homes just weeks ago by catastrophic flooding are being forced to evacuate again as flooding returns to northern New South Wales. In flood-hit Lismore, the Wilsons River rose several meters on Tuesday and is expected to reach major flood stage. The Bureau of Meteorology warns that the river could reach 10.6 meters. People were told to leave central Lismore at 4pm on Tuesday as floodwaters were expected to flow over the town’s seawall again. Flood Recovery Minister Steph Cooke said residents of Lismore should heed the warnings. “This latest event in addition to the one we experienced a month ago, this unprecedented natural disaster, which has seen flooding more than two meters beyond the record previously set in your communities – this is the latest thing you want right now.” Flood recovery centers opened after the February floods closed for the next 48 hours and the SES had positioned resources, including aircraft, in the area in anticipation of flooding, Ms Cooke told parliament on Tuesday. About 4,000 defense personnel and 1,000 emergency service personnel remain in the area. Some 6,600 people have also been ordered to leave in parts of Tumbulgum, Mullumbimby, Billinudgel, North Lismore, South Lismore, Coraki and Kyogle. A further 9,100 people also received evacuation warnings for Condong, South Murwillumbah, East Lismore and Girards Hills. The SES carried out 14 flood rescues and received 462 calls for help in the past 24 hours. Lismore MP Janelle Saffin swam from her home during flooding last month, while neighbors rescued her husband and others climbed into their attics. She said everyone was on deck as the threat of rain and flooding returned overnight and the response to Monday’s evacuation orders was more organized than in February. ‘There was SES, the military was knocking on doors saying evacuate…but only about 15 per cent of people went back north and south to Lismore,’ Ms Saffin said. The crumbling contents of flooded houses still line the streets of Lismore as the threat of flooding returns. “People’s lives are on sidewalks…it’s going to be everywhere,” Ms Saffin said. “It was truly a horrific event…and it requires a very different response from the government.” Ms Saffin wants a “reconstruction commission” that provides a single point of contact so flood victims aren’t left to deal with multiple government agencies. There is also a need for urgent improvements in housing solutions as, at present, “the implementation is simply appalling”. “I’m told, ‘Anyone who wants to be housed, is housed’. How come yesterday I got a call from a family of seven at the Lismore showground with their baby, niece, three dogs, and they weren’t lodged, they were in tents?” said Mrs. Saffin. Ms Cooke said there were 1,500 people in emergency accommodation. Acting Prime Minister Paul Toole told parliament that the government’s main aim was to put a roof over people’s heads and that community members had stood up to support each other, including welcoming the displaced residents in their homes. He said flood recovery coordinator Mal Lanyon had the capacity and resources to cut the red tape Ms Saffin was talking about, and he asked why his reconstruction commission was not included in the recovery plan. Labour’s 10-point recovery published this week. Lismore Mayor Steve Krieg said on Tuesday morning that exhausted residents were suffering from fatigue after a month of cleanup efforts. Rain is expected to continue on the New South Wales east coast for much of the week. Australian Associated Press


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