NSW floods: Gunnedah prepares for second major flood in a week Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content

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By Catherine Naylor and Sarah Keoghan

The north-west NSW town of Gunnedah was preparing for its second major flood in a week on Friday night, with the Namoi River expected to peak in the early hours of Saturday.

Heavy rain has caused rivers to rise across the state, with 28 the subject of flood warnings on Friday. The heaviest falls were recorded on the Far North Coast overnight on Thursday.

Couchy Creek, north of Murwillumbah, recorded 291 millimetres in 24 hours before the low pressure system that caused the rain, and put devastated Lismore on alert for its third flood of the year, moved off the coast.

The Bureau of Meteorology said more coastal thunderstorms were likely between Port Macquarie and the Queensland border on Saturday. Some of the storms could be severe and might lead to localised flooding.

In Lismore, which was hit by a record 14.4 metre flood in February, the warning for the Wilsons River was downgraded on Friday. The bureau is now predicting a minor flood that might reach about 4.4 metres on Friday night or Saturday morning.

“It is definitely looking better up in that north-eastern part of the world,” State Emergency Service spokesman Greg Nash said.

The Namoi River floods in Gunnedah on Sunday.

The Namoi River floods in Gunnedah on Sunday.Credit:New England NSW SES

“We’ll be watching to see where these thunderstorms do eventuate … there is still some uncertainty where they will happen.”

He said the SES had carried out six flood rescues in the 24 hours to 2pm on Friday.

“There is the occasional stock rescue, but the majority are people driving into floodwaters,” Nash said. “A normal road and a flood road are not the same road. It’s not worth the risk to push through.”

In Gunnedah, where the river peaked at 8.16 metres last Sunday, the SES had doorknocked residents in low-lying areas twice to keep them informed, he said, with the latest flood expected to be bigger than last Sunday’s.

“Most have decided against evacuation,” Nash said, “but there are no official order or warnings in place at this stage.”

The biggest flood on record in Gunnedah occurred in 1864, when the river reached 9.85 metres. According to the local flood plan, 87 residences will be affected if the river reaches at least 8.78 metres.

Gunnedah Shire Mayor Jamie Chaffey said the community was watching the river closely, especially farmers, who had been hoping for some income from their crops after three years of drought.

“There are some absolutely beautiful canola crops that have been through the flowering period – they were looking like the best crops in 10 years or more in the shire – and they’re now standing in water,” he said.

The crops would be destroyed if the water knocked them over, or took too long to recede.

“Our producers have gone through three years of drought – the worst drought in living memory before this wet weather period – and then there’s been an opportunity to start to make some income, to bounce back from those drought years.

“So to see an absolutely cracking crop in the field and have to question whether it will now turn into income has people quite concerned.”

Further north, the town of Wee Waa is still cut off after the Namoi River peaked on Thursday morning. It is expected to remain isolated until Wednesday. The SES organised a helicopter drop of pharmaceutical and medical supplies on Friday.

Warren, in the state’s Central West, is also experiencing major flooding. The Macquarie River is not expected to drop below that level for a few more days.

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