‘The warning was wrong’ Australians flee as ‘freak’ flooding forces NSW ‘underwater’

Australia: Evacuations begin as flooding strikes New South Wales

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Residents across New South Wales were forced to flee from their homes after “freak” rainfall fell on Australia’s east coast, according to authorities. However, Labor MP Justine Elliot, whose electorate covers flood zones including Ballina, Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Tweed Heads, confirmed only a single area (Lismore) received official New South Wales State Emergency Service (SES) weather warnings before the flooding started.

Ms Elliot described the disaster as “truly heartbreaking” and said that people in Byron Bay and Ballina “urgently” need evacuation centres.

Writing on Facebook Ms Elliot said she had been “up all night watching this devastating flooding throughout our region”.

She also confirmed that she is trying to fly back from the capital Canberra where she has been attending the Australian Parliament.

It comes as a new evacuation order was issued for Lismore overnight, after residents from the CBD, Lismore Basin, East Lismore and Girards Hill were told to leave immediately.

The town’s levee overtopped at around 9am this morning, with the Bureau of Meteorology warning it could reach 11m within hours.

However, the SES warned that although the levee was in “imminent” danger of being breached, the sirens would not sound due to a “malfunction”.

They said: “Everyone must get out of the CBD immediately.”

In an update, the SES also stated that it had been “an incredibly wet and dangerous 24 hours” and that many areas were experiencing heavy to torrential rain as well as flash and riverine flooding.”

State Minister for Emergency Services Steph Cooke said in a press conference that her “worst fears had been realised” due to the flooding.

She said: “Unfortunately overnight, our worst fears have been realised with significantly heavy rainfall across already saturated landscapes, particularly across the Northern Rivers region and the Mid North Coast.

“It’s a special reminder and call out to communities to be very, very careful at this time as you move about, and we encourage you not to move unless you really need to at this time.”

A whole range of evacuation orders have been issued by the NSW SES for residents of Woodburn and Swan Bay, Broadwater, Wardell, Cabbage Tree Island, Richmond River at Bungawalbyn and low lying areas of Coraki and New Italy.

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Residents in low-lying parts of the Urunga CBD, Bellinger Keys, Newry Island and Yellow Rock have also been ordered to leave their homes to seek a safe place.

Taking to Twitter, Former CEO and Principal Solicitor at Environmental Defenders Office, Sue Higginson, urged Australians to “please wake up”.

She said: “It’s frightening. The entire warning system was wrong, we are underwater again and being smashed!”

“Experts said we would experience HYBRID CYCLONES more regularly – the climate has changed. Sorry Lismore.”

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