‘Heartbreaking’: 3000+ calls for help as towns swallowed

The NSW State Emergency Service said on Thursday it had received 3166 calls for assistance.As the massive east coast low started moving into the Sydney metropolitan area, the busiest locations have been: Gosford (403 calls) Wyong (223) Penrith (177) Liverpool (167) Blacktown (134) Lismore (118) Ballina (116).Earlier in the week, it was reported there had been more than 1000 rescues across the Lismore area.Follow our free live coverage here: https://bit.ly /NSWfloods2022’One in 1000 year flood’: Ballina Island cut offBallina Island remains cut off from surrounding areas after historic flooding hit the town this week. Frustrations were running high when countless Ballina residents tried to return home to the CBD on Wednesday, only to be turned away. At the same time major communication network issues were affecting the town along with much of the Northern Rivers.The full scale of damage to the Ballina CBD is not yet known but on Wednesday police had erected roadblocks to keep people from trying to return to the flood -ravaged streets, many of them still inundated from the swollen Richmond River.Police roadblocks were erected on the CBD side of Missingham Bridge – heading from East Ballina – on Angels Beach Drive.The town has also been cut off from the north at Tamarind Drive and from the south and west. Speaking from a rare pocket of phone reception, Ballina mayor Sharon Cadwallader said the town was in a “desperate situation”.“I said (earlier) it was a one in 500 year event but it’s actually a one in 1000 year event, I believe , now,” Ms Cadwallader said. “It’s heartbreaking to see the river topple over like it has and to fill up the main CBD of Ballina. “It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see the homes flooded.”On the frontline of the disaster have been “tired volunteers doing extraordinary work”, she said.Ms Cadwallader said phone reception and other communication problems had worsened things.“Even the fuel cards … my fuel card wouldn’t work; The SES fuel cards wouldn’t work because of the terminals being shut down,” she said. “All the resources are being stretched to the armpits everywhere but council staff are doing great work. SES are doing phenomenal work.”Ms Cadwallader said she had with her house guests who had stopped in on their way to the Gold Coast before becoming stranded, and her son who has lost his home in Lismore. “I’m feeling devastated, I’m feeling absolutely gutted,” she said.At the same time, she said she “couldn’t be more proud” of the way her community was coming together.Large number of flood rescues in Ballina area Flood rescues were unfolding in Ballina and surrounds at a “tremendous” rate on Wednesday according to Jim Fuggle from Ballina’s SES unit.Mr Fuggle warned after the town was extensively flooded, waters could fall and rise again, depending on tidal movements and further flows from upstream.He urged people not to return to the town for any reason.“We’ve seen a lot of traffic coming from Lennox Head for some reason,” he said. “I just want to reiterate for no one to come into Ballina for any reason whatsoever.”Medical services from the evacuated Ballina Hospital have been moved to a nearby evacuation center at Xavier Catholic College, Skennars Head. Mr Fuggle said there had been lots of people in trouble in the Ballina CBD and surrounds. “We have been performing flood rescues at a tremendous rate and I would expect that having a look at the figures we’d be … over 100 easily,” he said.“We have our Ballina SES unit members, we have Ballina unit special flood rescue crews, we have SES members from other areas of NSW specializing in flood rescue.”He said Surf Life Saving members were helping with their equipment and boats.“We have the Army with a vehicle that’s capable of going through a large amount of water ,” he said.“All of those assets have been utilized.“We have, in addition to that, in areas particularly south of Ballina – in Pimlico, Keith Hall, Patches Beach areas, we have had numerous rescues by helicopter in excess of 60 people today (Wednesday).”He urged people not to leave evacuation centers to try to return home until the authorities tell them it’s safe to do so.“Do now breach the evacuation order just because you see some change in the level of the water,” he said. He said the flooding was unprecedented for Ballina.“This incident is a historic incident,” he said.“No one in living memory has seen an incident in any way comparable to this.”Kayakers rescue cow from raging floodwatersSeeing livestock in Ballina CBD parkland is ordinarily a strange sight.But on Tuesday, this was one sign of locals and emergency services banding together in the face of a flood emergency.Residents of Ballina Island were urged by the NSW State Emergency Service to evacuate to higher ground overnight on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, after some flooding impacted the CBD and surrounds, people from inundated waterfront properties took to the raging Richmond River on kayaks when they saw a young cow in the torrent.Dave Pollard was helping to sandbag his mother’s place when the events unfolded .“One of the neighbors started yelling out,” Mr Pollard said.“We didn’t know what she was talking about but then we got a bit closer and could see that she had found a cow, a live cow, jus t looking pretty exhausted.“All you could see was just its nose above the water.”Mr Pollard jumped in a kayak to help encourage the cow to shore.Nearby resident Edwina Browning-Wager heard the commotion and took to the water, too. “I had rescued a pelican recently … so I know that it’s hard to try and keep the animal in to shore,” she said.Once on the water, she said they faced really difficult conditions.“It was really hard, the water was crazy and I forgot my life jacket,” she said.Ms Browning-Wager insisted Mr Pollard was the most instrumental in getting the cow to shore.At the riverbank near Ballina RSL, others pitched in.“We jumped in the kayak and kind of got it close to the shore and then a whole group of good Samaritans came and we banded together and pulled it out,” Mr Pollard said.“It was a pretty big scene there for a while but I’m just glad we got the cow out.”Ballina man Ollie Saric was among the team that helped.“The fire crew was over at the RSL pumping water out of the c arpark, they’ve also seen what was going on,” Mr Saric said.Koori Mail unable to printThe Koori Mail will not be able publish next week for the first time in 30 years . General manager Naomi Moran confirmed on Thursday two levels of the three-storey building on Magellan St, was under water.Two senior staff members, including editor Rudi Maxwell, have lost their homes.“Not publishing for the first time in 30 years was a difficult decision to make but we are all affected by this,” Ms Moran said. “Our local Bundjalung communities have become our priority for now, they have all been affected by the devastating impacts of this flood.”Late on Wednesday, NSW police sent out an updated list of all evacuation centers for NSW after the SES website was swamped. However there were reports overnight the email was sent out in error.The Northern Star is seeking official confirmation from police.Four people have now died in the state’s flood disaster, with authorities recently confirming a man in his 70s was discovered inside a home in South Lismore.In a press conference on Thursday morning NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced a number of defense force, SES and RFS teams would be headed to the Northern Rivers to help support a clean up effort as soon as possible.“We know many people are returning to heartbreaking scenes,” Mr Perrottet said. “Whilst those devastating scenes are in place, what I saw yesterday (in Grafton) was such high spirit.”The announcement comes as the Bureau of Meteorology warns the Northern Rivers is likely to see showers and severe thunderstorms that will lead to intense and dangerous flash flooding.Major and moderate flooding continues across the region.NED-5618-NSW-Flood-northNSW police commissioner Karen Webb warned resi dents not to park under trees with high winds likely to cause trees to be uprooted and fall over.She said the possibility of fallen trees was also likely to impact power supplies in the area.“We are going in and doing assessment on the damage, ” she said“We are trying to clear those properties and get people into their homes and businesses as soon as possible.”To help provide supplies to the Northern Rivers, the RFS water tanker helicopter has been converted into freight with the ability to transport up to 10 tonnes of produce into the region.Mr Perrottet said while disaster relief funding had already been announced, if there were any gaps in the criteria the state government would look to fill them to help those devastated by the floods.Ballina meanwhile remains cut off from surrounding areas after historic flooding hit the town on Wednesday. Frustrations were running high when countless Ballina residents tried to return home to the CBD, only to be turned away. At the same time major communication network issues were affecting the town along with much of the Northern Rivers.Northern NSW flood crisis key websites

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