Flood in Australia on April 01 2017 04:23 AM (UTC).
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejikilian has pleaded with locals to heed SES warnings as the threat from the state's deadly flood crisis moves south from the stricken city of Lismore. There have been two flood-related deaths in NSW; one near Murwillumbah - which was one of the worst-hit towns - and another in the Hunter region. The Pacific Highway, the major road link between Queensland and NSW, has been cut off by water at Chinderah although heavy vehicles are now being allowed through. The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) issued evacuation orders in Billinudgel, Ocean Shores, New Brighton and Cabbage Tree Island - an Aboriginal community. Evacuation orders remain for Tweed Heads, Murwillumbah, South Murwillumbah, Condong, Tumbulgum, Lismore CBD, North and South Lismore and Kyogle. The Bureau of Meteorology said floodwaters travelling from Lismore were expected to peak at Woodburn this afternoon. Ms Berejiklian said she was "anxious" to get to flood-affected areas in the state's north on Monday. She urged residents not to return and thanked families and friends who had been hosting locals who could not return home. "It's not safe to ask anybody to return to their homes," Ms Berejiklian said. The Premier asked for people to heed safety warnings from the SES. "They're there to protect life, and everybody: if you think something looks safe, you cannot underestimate what's going on below the surface," she said. NSW SES Commissioner Mark Smethurst said they had been "flat out" with more than 400 rescues in the flood-affected areas. "Most of those flood rescues were from people trapped in their own buildings who did not heed the warnings when they were told to evacuate," he said. Extra resources are now arriving in the area as the SES, which has hundreds of outstanding jobs, tries to get to residents in the flood-ravaged region. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said ex-tropical cyclone Debbie and its subsequent flooding emergencies had put a strain on resources. There is a major flood warning for the Wilsons and Richmond Rivers but the threat to the Tweed River has been downgraded. Between 500 and 740 millimetres of rain was recorded in NSW's Tweed River valley in the 24 hours to 2:00am yesterday, after which it began to ease. Residents in Lismore said the water had receded by up to a metre in some parts of the city. As the focus turned to cleaning up, some people who remained in their homes started to come out and assess damage. However, authorities said it could be up to two days until the residents who fled their homes would be able to return. SES commissioner Mark Smethurst said floodwaters had been contaminated with sewerage and dead livestock. "Avoid going into the floodwaters...You've got carcasses in the water now from livestock. You've got sewerage in the water now, it's not safe to be going in there," he said. "There's a lot of mud around and frankly we're better off to allow the levels to drop down to a safer amount before we get the professionals in there to start helping them." A woman was reported missing at Burringbar, south of Murwillumbah in NSW, overnight on Thursday and police said a body was found on a flood-affected property about 8:00am on Friday. The body of a second woman was found in a river in the Hunter Valley yesterday morning after her car was swept off a flooded bridge on Thursday night. Police divers found the body of the 64-year-old woman trapped in her car in a river outside the town of Gungal, about 600 kilometres south of where the main flood problem areas are. The woman's 74-year-old husband, who was also in the car, managed to escape. Sue Pritchard, from the NSW SES, warned residents in affected areas to stay away from the flood waters. "The SES is urging people not to drive through floodwaters, not be tempted to go sight-see in these areas or to let their children play in those floodwaters," she said. "So just stay safe and stay clear of these areas and let the emergency services get on with the good work that they're doing." Janet Bell, who lives in Duroby Creek between Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah and has been in the area for 35 years, said the Tweed River was at the highest level she had ever seen it, and was flowing "a lot faster" than in other flood times. Murwillumbah was getting low on supplies, she had heard from friends and relatives, and food trucks were finding it difficult to get into the town. "They haven't got a lot there, that's why the food truck is trying to get through to the old people's homes," she said.