Trapped: SES workers rescued a driver who was a bit too confident in his car’s ability to cross these floodwaters at Tennyson in the Hawkesbury last week. Photo: Damian Hofman
The brilliant sunshine of today won’t last long according to the NSW State Emergency Service, which is urging coastal and Northern Rivers residents to prepare for more wild weather mid-week.
The SES made the warning this afternoon, as the Bureau of Meteorology issued a statement that a low pressure system was developing off the northern New South Wales coast.
The system could result in more intense wind and up to 80 millimetres of rain.
Last week’s so-called “superstorm”, which dumped up to 300 millimetres of rain on the Hunter and Mid North Coast regions, has already resulted in damage worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the agriculture industry according to the NSW Government – with roads, bridges and fences washed away.
And as if last week’s storm wasn’t enough, more intense weather hit Sydney’s western suburbs on Saturday, with 50 to 60mm of rain falling in the Blacktown area and the inner west being pounded with hail.
Hope Media’s Facebook followers posted photos of icy scenes in their streets following the hailstorm, with some scenes resembling snowfields.
Icy scenes: Flooding and hail combined to create havoc in Alexandria on Saturday. Photo by Hope 103.2 listener Terry, from Alexandria.
Electricity linesmen from Endeavour Energy and Ausgrid are still working overtime battling to restore power to affected areas. Ausgrid reported at 5pm today that 24,500 properties were still ‘off the grid’ in the Hunter, Central Coast and Sydney regions.
In the Hawkesbury district one crew of Endeavour Energy workers spent Wednesday night stuck on the wrong side of Webbs Creek Ferry, which broke down due to the flood waters. The crew slept in their work trucks overnight after a long day of restoring power around Wisemans Ferry.
In Newcastle, the transmitter of Christian radio station Rhema FM has been destroyed by storm water inundating their transmitter building. Their broadcast, while still available online, is off the airwaves. The station is calling on listener support for a new transmitter to get them back on air.
One listener on the Central Coast, who asked not to be named, said she felt helpless during last week’s stormy weather while watching emergency workers in her street battling to clear fallen trees, until she decided to pray.
“They were working in terrible conditions with their flood lights on in the dark and all of a sudden I thought, ‘why don’t I ask God to turn off the rain,’ so I did,” she said.
“I prayed, and then the rain stopped, and when they had finished and packed up and left, it started again.”
The woman, who stayed with relatives in Sydney as the power was out on her street for the past six days, said she was thankful to hear that electricity was finally restored to her street at lunchtime today.
SES Crews still working through backlog of callouts
Meanwhile, dedicated SES crews are still working hard to complete the 18,600 calls that came in last week between Monday and Sunday, mostly for help with trees and branches down on houses, roads and powerlines.
Local crews were supported by support teams from Victoria SES, ACT SES, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, Volunteer Rescue Association, and other NSW emergency services including NSW Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue NSW.
Those who issued calls for help that haven’t yet been answered by the SES, are being asked to call the SES back on 132 500 either to confirm or cancel their need for help.
In a statement yesterday, the SES thanked the community for working together to help one another.
“There has been some amazing resilience and community responses to this unprecedented weather, with neighbours, streets, communities, friends and family rallying to assist those in need,” the statement said.
Free State Of Origin Tickets For Emergency Workers
In a gesture of thanks, Premier Mike Baird and NRL CEO Dave Smith announced today that thousands of State of Origin tickets will be given to SES volunteers and other emergency services workers who helped save lives and homes over the past week.
“At least 2000 tickets to the first State of Origin match at ANZ Stadium on May 27 will be given to SES volunteers, Police, Fire and Rescue, RFS and NSW Ambulance officers,” the Premier announced in a statement.
A special video tribute will also be played before the match, and emergency workers who battled through the storms will be invited on to the field of play.
“We all owe our emergency services volunteers and workers a debt of gratitude and this will provide an ideal forum for the public to say thank you,” Mr Baird said.
“Their work will be recognised before a huge crowd at ANZ Stadium. I cannot think of a better way to thank emergency services workers than before a packed stadium on one of the biggest sporting nights of the year.”