Millions of residents have been told to stay home and put their travel plans on hold as wild weather batters NSW while more than 500,000 people have been urged to evacuate flood-prone areas before they become trapped in their homes.
Camden, Woronora, Chipping Norton, Georges Hill, Lansvale, Moorebank, and Warwick Farm residents were told to leave or risk being trapped by floodwaters.
‘If you remain in the area you may be trapped without power, water and other essential services and it may be too dangerous to rescue you,’ the SES warned.
More than three times the average July rainfall has so far fallen in some parts of NSW this weekend, while emergency services have received more than 1,400 calls for help and rescued 29 people from flash flooding over the last 24 hours.
Defence force helicopters are on standby to help with rescue efforts if residents become trapped with no way to escape.
Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience & Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke described the wild weather as ‘a life-threatening emergency situation’ and warned residents intending on making a road-trip to postpone their travels.
An abandoned car trapped in floodwaters at Lansvale in western Sydney on Sunday
Heavy rainfall and flash flooding is expected to intensify throughout Sunday prompting thousands of residents to evacuate their homes
‘To all communities between Newcastle and Batemans Bay, I am respectfully asking that you reconsider your travel plans at this time,’ she said.
‘Please stay home if you can. It is really not the time to travel if you are in those areas that are impacted.
‘While I absolutely accept that it couldn’t come at a worse time for a lot of people and a lot of families, at the end of the day we want everyone to be safe and if that means that you need to reconsider where you go for your holiday, perhaps postpone it or delay just even by a few days.’
Ms Cooke said an east coast low had formed over the coast of NSW and expected the heavy rainfall and flash flooding to continue until at least Tuesday.
‘For Sydney, the Central Coast and the South Coast, and the Illawarra, we are now facing dangers on multiple fronts – flash flooding, riverine flooding and coastal erosion.’
NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York urged residents to brace for the worst, shore up their homes with sandbags, and head to their closest evacuation centre.
‘If you think you need sandbagging, go to your area that is on the SES website or the local council website where you can get your sandbags and stop preparation for your property,’ she said.
‘Have an emergency evacuation kit ready with your documents and have some – if you are in an isolated area – food, water. Look after your domestic animals and make sure that you have a plan and try and ring family and friends and organise where you might go if you do need to evacuate.’
More than 500,000 residents across south-west Sydney have been warned to evacuate as flash flooding and heavy rain batters NSW
NSW SES warned residents who remained behind in areas with evacuation orders risked becoming trapped by rising floodwaters
Shellharbour recorded 193mm of rainfall, 3.2 times its July average rainfall, Albion Park measured 172mm, 3.1 times its average, and Beaumont 161mm, 1.6 times the average.
Major flooding hit Menangle in Macarthur, southwest of Sydney, with river levels exceeding those seen in March this year.
Riverine flooding is also expected along the Hawkesbury and Colo Rivers from Sunday, with major flooding at North Richmond possible from the afternoon.
Authorities are confident they are ready to help NSW residents caught out by the wild weather, and avoid a repeat of their heavily criticised flood response earlier this year.
Defence force helicopters and troops are on standby and emergency services personnel are working around the clock.
The cold front battering the state’s east coast is forecast to get worse before it gets better, with wild winds, rough seas, and heavy rain expected to last until Monday.
With three flood rescues carried out on Friday and Saturday, people were urged to avoid non-essential trips as the deluge put a dampener on the opening weekend of the NSW school holidays.
It comes as more than three times the average rainfall has fallen in some parts of NSW over the weekend, with more than 1,000 calls for help made to emergency services and defence force helicopters on standby to help with rescue efforts.
Flooding is also possible for the Hunter, Central Coast, Sydney, and the south coast, with flood watches in place for catchments between Newcastle and Batemans Bay, including Sydney and the Illawarra.
Areas at risk include Newcastle, the Central Coast, Lake Macquarie, and the Upper Coxs, Colo, Macdonald, Woronora, Patterson, Williams, and Lower Hunter rivers.
A severe weather warning for damaging winds and heavy rainfall was in place on Sunday for Sydney, the Illawarra, and parts of the Hunter, Central Tablelands, and Southern Tablelands forecast districts.
The Upper and Lower Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers are also causing concern as already-soaked catchments endure another lengthy drenching.
Dramatic footage shows the moment a terrified young woman was rescued from surging floods as wild weather wreaked havoc in NSW on Saturday night.
A severe weather warning for damaging winds and heavy rainfall was in place on Sunday for Sydney’s metropolitan areas, the Illawarra, and parts of the Hunter, Central Tablelands, and Southern Tablelands forecast districts
The woman, believed to be in her 20s, desperately clung to a tree as the freezing current ripped at her after she was swept away by the treacherous waters.
Emergency workers bravely fought to save her and managed get a lifeline to her before plucking her to safety in Holsworthy, southwest Sydney, on Saturday night.
‘Please be ready to evacuate on short notice,’ NSW Emergency Services Minister Stephanie Cooke said.
‘Please ensure that you prepare your properties as best you can and if in any doubt, please evacuate earlier.
‘Don’t necessarily wait for us to put out an order, asking or suggesting that you leave.’
The terrified woman clung to a tree as she was battered by flood waters in southwestern Sydney
Around 500,000 residents in southwest Sydney have been told to evacuate as the heavy rain pounding the NSW east coast triggered multiple flood warnings
The terrified young woman was rescued from surging floods as wild weather continued to wreak havoc in NSW on Saturday night
The SES warned: ‘If you receive a text message from +61 444 444 444, it’s an official alert that requires attention and to take action early.’
Authorities also fear that Sydney’s main water source, the Warragamba Dam, could overflow and unleash widespread flooding as the deluge smashed a 118-year record.
Ambulance, fire, police and SES personnel desperately tried to find one man who was washed away in the Hacking River near Otford, in the Illawarra, south of Sydney.
A rural firefighter spotted the man in a nearby creek, and got in the rising icy waters to pull him to safety onto the riverbank.
Additional RFS crew members then helped him up to higher ground, where he was assessed for injuries and taken to hospital
Another nine people were also rescued from flood waters in Austral, southwest Sydney, when two cars were stranded in rising waters,
‘The two cars were in approximately 40cm of water, which is enough to be very dangerous,’ the Rural Fire Service said.
‘The occupants from two vehicles were assisted to higher ground by our members and they have gone home safely.’
Authorities warned earlier on Saturday the wet weather was only going to get worse, with more rain, powerful winds, and surging seas expected.
Ambulance, fire, police and SES personnel desperately tried to find a man who was washed away in the Hacking River near Otford, in Illawarra region, south of Sydney
The federal government approved ADF support at the request of NSW on Friday night, with 100 troops and two helicopters available from Sunday onwards, Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt said.
‘I want to assure people that the federal government… is 100 per cent prepared for what might lie ahead,’ Senator Watt said from Brisbane on Saturday.
‘One of the things that we’ve learned over the last couple of years is that when we don’t have a federal government that takes responsibility and isn’t proactive, bad things can happen.’
The Bureau of Meteorology’s Jane Golding said there would be a ‘deterioration’ of weather overnight, with a risk of flash flooding and landslips.
‘The rainfall rates will increase,’ she said.
‘We’ll start to see the wind increase as well. We’ll see the seas whipped up and we’ll see the rivers respond to the rain that’s falling.’
NSW Emergency Minister Steph Cooke said flash flooding could occur anywhere from Newcastle to Jervis Bay
Torrential rain, flash flooding, landslides, damaging winds and power outages are all threatening Sydney and NSW residents
More than 200mm of rain fell south of Wollongong overnight, with between 80 and 150mm falling on Sydney and the Illawarra in just six hours.
The Illawarra district was hit by its heaviest July rainfall since 1904.
The deluge is on the first weekend of school holidays, and drivers were urged to take extra care.
‘We know floodwater is extremely dangerous, especially for drivers. If the road is flooded, turn around and find another way,’ Transport for NSW’s Roger Weeks said.
Routes in and out of Sydney are likely to face congestion, with heavy traffic expected at known pinch-points, particularly around the airport.
Hazardous surf is also expected.
The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather alert for metropolitan Sydney, Illawarra and parts of the South Coast, Central Tablelands and Southern Tablelands on Saturday morning
THE FIVE DAY WEATHER FORECAST IN YOUR CITY
Sunday: Showers. Max 19 Min 11.
Monday: Shower or two. Max 19 Min 12.
Tuesday: Partly cloudy. Max 20 Min 10.
Wednesday: Showers. Max 19 Min 13
Thursday: Showers. Max 18 Min 13
Sunday: Partly cloudy. Max 23 Min 11.
Monday: Partly cloudy. Max 22 Min 13.
Tuesday: Partly cloudy. Max 23 Min 12.
Wednesday: Shower or two. Max 21 Min 13
Thursday: Partly cloudy. Max 23 Min 13
Sunday: Cloudy. Max 17 Min 10.
Monday: Showers. Max 15 Min 11.
Tuesday: Showers easing. Max 15 Min 9.
Wednesday: Partly cloudy. Max 14 Min 5
Thursday: Shower or two. Max 15 Min 6
Sunday: Showers easing. Max 19 Min 12.
Monday: Partly cloudy. Max 19 Min 8.
Tuesday: Mostly sunny. Max 20 Min 8.
Wednesday: Partly cloudy. Max 18 Min 5
Thursday: Partly cloudy. Max 19 Min 6
Sunday: Partly cloudy. Max 16 Min 5.
Monday: Partly cloudy. Max 17 Min 9.
Tuesday: Showers. Max 15 Min 11.
Wednesday: Partly cloudy. Max 16 Min 4
Thursday: Possible shower. Max 14 Min 5
Sunday: Partly cloudy. Max 15 Min 0.
Monday: Cloudy. Max 15 Min 4.
Tuesday: Showers. Max 13 Min 5.
Wednesday: Cloudy. Max 14 Min 3
Thursday: Cloudy. Max 14 Min 3
Sunday: Sunny. Max 33 Min 20.
Monday: Partly cloudy. Max 32 Min 21.
Tuesday: Partly cloudy. Max 33 Min 22.
Wednesday: Sunny. Max 27 Min 14
Thursday: Sunny. Max 29 Min 15
Sunday: Partly cloudy. Max 14 Min 6.
Monday: Partly cloudy. Max 15 Min 8.
Tuesday: Shower or two. Max 14 Min 9.
Wednesday: Cloudy. Max 13 Min 4
Thursday: Possible shower. Max 13 Min 5
Source: Bureau of Meteorology