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Central West community prepares for isolation as floodwaters make way from Forbes

Tuesday November 23, 2021 - 03:45 AEDT
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Three teachers from Bedgerabong Public School had to get airlifted to work. - ABC

A community in central west of New South Wales is being warned it could be cut off by floodwaters until after Christmas. 

Bedgerabong, about 30km west of Forbes, has been told to prepare for up to five weeks of isolation due to flooding along the Lachlan River. 

Road access to Forbes is shut and while residents can still get to Condobolin via the Lachlan Valley Way people are being told to stock up on essentials. 

The water has already hit surrounding properties as it moves downstream from Forbes along the Lachlan River. 

State Emergency Services have warned more rain on the forecast could result in further floods and river rises in the region. 

Local farmer Anne Earney has already lost hundreds of acres worth of wheat and barley. 

"We've never had a flood at harvest so this in a one in 200 year event," Ms Earney said. 

In recent decades, major floods have seen the area cut off from nearby towns for several weeks.

"Our fridges are stocked and our freezers are stocked and we'll wait for the water to go down," she said. 

Her homestead, and those nearby, becomes surrounded when major floods hit, with about one kilometre of dry land surrounding it and the rest an inland sea. 

"We're all on little individual islands so we'll work out a way if we need to help each other out," she said. 

Along with her husband, child and dad they expect to last several weeks with the help of long-life milk and canned food. 

She said people in the area are comfortable being on their own. 

"We're used to isolation...I guess that's our bonus of being farmers." 

The community ring around and share their knowledge of where the floodwaters could head, Ms Earney said, but the water is moving particularly slowly and acting differently with so much pasture around. 

Going to great heights

Yesterday, the Rural Fire Service airlifted three teachers to work at the local public school to enable classes to go ahead.

SES duty operations coordinator Amy Banks said locals should stock up on essentials before it becomes too late. 

"Stock up on water, canned goods, batteries, fuel, gas, medicines, baby necessities and pet food," Ms Banks said.

People in low-lying areas and on properties in and around the town are being urged to have an action plan. 

"Decide whether you'll leave now and move to a safer area, or remain in the area, as long as you're aware that you need to be prepared for not having the right supplies, power and other services," she said. 

People in the area are being advised to stay in touch with older community members.


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