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Heavy rainfall cuts off outlying communities in NSW Upper Hunter, farmland impacted

By Amelia Bernasconi and Bridget Murphy, Monday November 22, 2021 - 03:02 AEDT
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Aberdeen based dairy farmer Scott Wheatley has seen silage wash away in the flood waters. - ABC

Scone in the NSW Hunter Valley is experiencing a "rare" once in 20-year flood event after a weekend of heavy rainfall, while a man has been rescued from floodwaters at Merriwa.

Kingdon Ponds in the Hunter catchment broke the minor flood level of 3.2 metres around 4am and peaked at 3.47 metres near the moderate flood level at about 7:30am.

A minor flood warning is in place for the Hunter River at Aberdeen and Muswellbrook.

The Bureau of Meteorology expects the river to peak at minor flood level of 7.3 metres in Aberdeen around midday, and at the same height in Muswellbrook at 6pm.

The State Emergency Service said some "little townships around Scone may be cut off for short periods of time," including Satur, Rouchel and Turanville.

The Merriwa to Scone Road will also likely be impacted, among other local roads.

BOM Meteorologist Helen Reid said flooding in Scone "happens every 20 years or so".

"It does happen and it can catch us off guard, as that's just how much rain has gone into a wet catchment," Ms Reid said.

Scone Airport recorded 60mm in the 24 hours to 9am, while some outlying areas saw closer to 90mm.

SES Deputy Zone Commander Superintendent Joanna Jones said Hunter crews have responded to nearly 50 calls since Sunday morning.

"Most of those have been storm jobs, so trees down, roof leaks and the like," Superintendent Jones said. 

"We've had 13 flood-related jobs, water over the road, requests for sandbags, help with moving livestock, those sorts of things."

Moving silage to higher ground

Aberdeen dairy farmer Scott Wheatley said he woke to a "sea of water" on his property which is bordered by the Dartbrook River and Kingdon Ponds, near where they meet the Hunter River.

He said it was the highest the rivers have been "in at least 10 or 12 years".

"We moved some silage yesterday to what we thought was going to be high enough ground," he said.

"This morning ? by the time we got those 20 odd bales out of the road, one of them almost started to float away."

Mr Wheatley said he "wasn't quite quick enough" to save two river pumps and also lost two well pumps that were submerged, but he said after years of drought it was worth it.

"The creek was bone dry [18 months ago]... it's just amazing how things can turn around.

"It's good to see the rain and a decent flood, it's been a long time since we've had a good one so this might be a good sign of good times hopefully and some continued good seasons."

Don't risk it

Superintendent Jones urged locals to stay safe.

"Stay out of the rising and fast-flowing water," she said.

"Don't drive, ride or walk through the floodwater because despite our warnings we unfortunately still see occurrences of poor judgement.

"Floodwater can erode and wash away road surfaces and leave deep holes which can't be seen so driving through flood water risks the lives of those in the vehicles and also the lives of our volunteers involved in the rescue."

Meteorologist Helen Reid said some parts of NSW have recorded their November averages in one day, and many have surpassed that figure three times over.


© ABC 2021

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