New South Wales Residents have been warned to “be ready to evacuate” as torrential rains continue to devastate the entire state, causing flash flooding and major dams.
Authorities said on Saturday afternoon it could take some time for the dangerous conditions to subside, with the “worst yet to come”.
The downpour currently stretches from Port Stevens in the north to Batemans Bay in the south and everything in between.
Emergency Services and Resilience Minister Steph Cooke said the SES has responded to some 240 requests for assistance since 06:00 this morning.
She said residents in affected areas should remain vigilant as the outrageous conditions are expected to worsen during the afternoon and evening.
“My message to everyone today is if you haven’t been hit by rainfall yet, don’t think you’ve been spared,” Cooke said.
“Maybe we haven’t seen the worst yet.
“There is a very real threat of a low-lying east coast developing into Sunday. This could result in torrential rains, flash flooding, damaging winds and coastal erosion, making our coastline and our cities very dangerous places to be.”
Cooke said that given the “already record rains” the state has experienced this year, the soil is still saturated.
“Our entire landscape, in fact almost directly across from NSW, is saturated at the moment,” she said.
“And of course our dams and river channels are full too.”
“So, in addition to flash flooding, there is a very real risk of river flooding in the coming days.”
Cooke said: “This could happen anywhere from Newcastle to Jarvis Bay”, with the river system “of the greatest concern” at the Hawkesbury-Nepean.
“It can reach a major flood level overnight,” she said.
Authorities have also expressed concern about the Warragamba Dam, which could see significant leakage in the coming days.
As of 4pm this afternoon, the Upper Nepean, Avon and Cordeaux Dams have reported a spill.
“We’re all nervously waiting to see what happens,” Cooke said.
Helicopters, unimogs and other resources are placed to ensure they can respond quickly in an emergency.
“Please keep an eye on the watches and the warnings and the orders issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, the SES and other emergency services as the hours and days unfold,” Cooke said.
“Make sure you are ready to evacuate at short notice.
“Be sure to prepare your belongings as best you can, prepare your families and pets if necessary, and if in doubt, evacuate early.
“Don’t necessarily wait for us to place an order, ask for it, or propose to leave.”
Ferries across the river between Parramatta and Rydalmere have been demolished as the weir overflowed. Alternative transport is being provided, but authorities have called on commuters to allow extra travel time.
Meanwhile, Queensland will see up to 25 millimeters of rain over the weekend before conditions temporarily ease.
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The weather system can pick up again on Monday with even more wet weather.