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NSW towns isolated by rising rivers

| 22.05,09. 11:47 AM |

NSW towns isolated by rising rivers


 May 22, 2009 10:12am

PARTS of the NSW north-coast city of Lismore are flooded and other parts have been isolated by floodwaters.

A State Emergency Services spokeswoman said north Lismore was completely isolated, while south Lismore was inundated.

River levels are expected to peak about midday as authorities carefully monitor levees in the northern rivers region, and also the northern tablelands and mid-north coast.

The SES has received more than 1300 requests for assistance since Tuesday afternoon as the north coast prepares for more heavy rain today and possible flooding.

Hundreds of people have already been evacuated from their homes, while thousands of others are isolated.

"The predominant areas we've been looking at at the moment are Lismore, certainly with the Richmond (and) Wilsons River rising still there and also shifting south to Grafton and the Clarence River,'' SES Deputy Director General Greg Slater said.

About 100 people are currently using the evacuation centre set up at Southern Cross University.

The SES was working closely with the Bureau of Meteorology, monitoring their predictions for their warnings, Mr Slater said.

"It's difficult still to say with this weather system, but because the catchment is so wet any further rainfall embedded in this low pressure system will of course result in further river rises."

The State Emergency Service issued an evacuation order for 5000 people in Lismore early today after warnings the Wilsons River could reach major flood levels.

However, the river is not expected to break its banks.

Mr Slater said many of the evacuations were precautionary.

"Protection of human life is paramount for the service and we would much rather be in a situation of moving people and then having them move back into safe dry homes, rather than not having taken a proactive stance in the first place.''

The weather bureau has issued a severe weather warning for the northern rivers, northern tablelands and mid-north coast, with heavy rain and strong wind forecast throughout northeastern NSW.

Flood warnings are current for the Tweed, Richmond/Wilsons, Clarence, Bellinger, Macleay, Hastings, Orara, Brunswick and Nambucca rivers.

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