Residents evacuated as flash flooding hits NSW, Victoria

NSW town of Molong hit by wild floods

Widespread heavy rain has led to more dangerous flash flooding in parts of NSW, with people rescued from “roof-high floodwaters” as more towns were cut off.

In the state’s central-west, a rescue was under way on Monday morning for a man trapped in his car in Alectown.

He called for help just before 4am.

Flash flooding also hit Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula on Monday, with residents were warned to stay indoors amid a sudden downpour.

There was more alarm in Melbourne’s outer-west, after a deluge led to flooding in Werribee, and alarm about the rapidly rising Werribee River.

A freight train derailed west of Geelong on Monday. Investigations continue into the cause, but dozens of shipping containers lay strewn around the scene, many lying in water.

In NSW, the State Emergency Service said it had responded to 33 flood rescues and 462 requests for help in the 24 hours to Monday morning.

In extraordinary footage posted to Twitter, floodwaters were so rapid in the NSW historic town of Molong that a shipping container was floating down the main street. The force of the water also smashed shop windows and took out one wall of a supermarket.

Molong, in the central tablelands near Orange, was completely isolated by floodwaters on Monday, with flash flooding making it too dangerous to evacuate.

There were reports of firefighters rescuing people from their roofs, while the Nine Network reported other firefighters waded through chest-high water to get to a woman stranded in her home.

The SES warned people in the town’s low-lying areas to move to higher ground.

Cabonne mayor Kevin Beatty, whose territory includes Molong, said the picturesque town had been devastated. Shops in the main street were inundated and people had been evacuated from homes and motels.

“I don’t what it is … there’s either a big caravan or big shipping container sitting right on the highway on the bend in the middle of town,” he told Sydney radio 2GB on Monday.

An evacuation centre was opened at Molong RSL club, while an Australian Defence Force helicopter was sent to help rescue people trapped in floods and help with medical retrievals. The water was receding by late Monday morning.

Meanwhile, people in low-lying parts of the central-western town of Canowindra were urged to evacuate immediately because of high river levels and dangerous flash flooding.

An evacuation centre has opened at the local public school after the town had 99 millimetres of rain in just six hours overnight.

The Bureau of Meteorology had earlier cancelled severe thunderstorm warnings for NSW and Victoria. It said the immediate threat of severe thunderstorms had passed, but the situation would be monitored and further warnings issued if necessary.

The warnings had previously encompassed the NSW mid-north coast, the Hunter, the central tablelands, the north-west slopes and plains, the central-west slopes and plains, upper western and northern tablelands districts.

Warnings were cancelled for Victoria’s East Gippsland, northern country, north-central and north-east forecast districts.

Emergency also hits Victoria

In Victoria a watch and act alert was issued for Mount Martha, Mornington, Hastings and Dromana on the Mornington Peninsula on Monday morning as heavy rainfall caused localised flash flooding and building damage.

Residents were told to stay inside and away from floodwaters as the severe thunderstorm hit.

Victoria SES chief officer Tim Wiebusch said on Monday volunteers had responded to more than 550 calls for help by 8am Monday. They included 38 flood rescues.

He said the Mount Martha and Mornington areas were hit with 40-50 millimetres of rain in a few hours and there had been 23 flood rescues in those regions.

“A range of the rescues this morning have been people attempting to drive through flash flood waters but also [people] seeing water levels rise around their houses very, very quickly,” he told ABC TV.

Mr Wiebusch said there had also been significant downpours in Victoria’s north-east overnight, including 60-70 millimetres of rain in some areas.

Mr Wiebusch said flash flooding was expected to turn into major riverine flooding in coming days as already saturated catchments felt the impact of the extra water.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Meteorology’s Jonathan How warned of more wet weather on the way.

“We are seeing rain and storms push up the Hunter coast of Newcastle and we are looking at a couple more storms across the eastern part of NSW,” he said.

“For Victoria and Tasmania, those further showers coming through will keep things quite wet.

“Even as conditions start to clear off, this flood will likely last for days if not more weeks to come, with more and more rain coming into these already soaked catchments.”

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