Photo: Waterfalls hit the road at Dorrigo National Park in NSW. (Instagram: oli_photoplay)
NSW weather: Flood rescues amid deluge on north coast with 200mm of rain expected
(Translation of this article appears in Arabic section)
More than 20 flood rescues have been carried out in the north of New South Wales, as heavy rainfall in the region causes flash flooding and multiple road closures.
Caroline Ortel from the Clarence-Nambucca State Emergency Service (SES) said the rescues had been the result of people ignoring flood warnings.
"We've had several flood rescues, all of them based on people driving into floodwaters," she said.
"So we say it over and over again, that people shouldn't drive walk or play in floodwater. If it's flooded, forget it," she said.
The SES said a young family were rescued after they were surrounded by floodwater in the Bungalwalbin-Tabbimobile area between the Pacific Highway and the coast.
Ian Lecki from the Richmond Tweed SES said the mother, father and four-year-old child had to be winched to safety by a rescue helicopter.
"It was very hard to find them as they were about seven kilometres away from any road access. We have a lot of fog in the area so the helicopter had a lot of difficulty finding them" he said.
Rivers including the Bellinger, Orara, Williams and the Coffs Creek are expected to reach minor flood levels today, with 100 to 200 millimetres of rainfall expected before conditions ease on Sunday.
The SES said it had brought in extra teams that had been kept busy on Friday night responding to reports of leaking roofs and requests for sandbags.
The organisation has had 2,700 calls for help across NSW since Friday.
NSW SES Commissioner Mark Smethurst said he had 180 crews on standby.
He said there were five rivers of major concern among the 11 that had flood watches in place from the mid north coast up to the Queensland border.
"Of course, they're all likely to experience some increase in height. But our greatest concern is flash flooding," Mr Smethurst said.
The Pacific Highway has been re-opened in both directions between Grafton and Ballina.
Several vehicles have been stranded in flash flooding and traffic on the M1 has seen long hold ups after the SES estimated up to 30 cars attempted to drive through floodwater.
Andrew McPhee from the Richmond Tweed SES said a massive rescue effort was required because of water across the highway at New Italy.
"[There were a] large number of vehicles who have been stopped in water on the road, I stress it is slow moving water there, so my understanding is NSW police were able to extract those drivers and passengers from those vehicles," he said.
Weather warnings remain in place for large parts of NSW and parts of the northern tablelands are expected to be the hardest hit.
Commissioner Smethurst said the clean-up was continuing after storms in Sydney's west and the Illawarra, which claimed the life of 11-year-old Ryan Teasdale in Wollongong.
"We had 40 flood rescues down in the Illawarra over the last 24 to 48 hours and a lot of that occurred in a very small period of time, when we had flash flooding," he said.
"My message to everybody is stay out of those waters, particularly if you're driving."
Severe storms and flooding continue in NSW
Wild wet weather is drenching coastal New South Wales, with heavy rain and flash flooding in parts. This comes after a savage storm moved over the state's central-west earlier in the week. Share your photos and videos on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram #NSWweather.