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Major flooding imminent in Forbes as residents flee low-lying homes

Tuesday November 16, 2021 - 11:06 AEDT
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Floodwater is beginning to inundate a caravan park in Forbes. - ABC

The State Emergency Service says the flood response in the NSW central-west town of Forbes is now entering a "wait and see" phase, as anxious residents watch the town's swollen river continue to rise.

The Lachlan River is expected to reach a major flood level of 10.55 metres in the early hours of Wednesday, with a second peak of 10.65m likely in the afternoon.

An evacuation order is now in place over 800 low-lying properties around Forbes.

There is an evacuation centre set up at the St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church on Harold Street.

SES incident controller Barry Griffiths said it was difficult to predict exactly how high the river would rise.

"There is a lot of variables on the flood plain which may bring different results into it, so that's why we've taken the precautions that we have," he said.

The river upstream at Nanami exceeded the heights seen during the devastating 2016 floods, with levels holding steady at 12.38 metres on Tuesday morning.

Residents prepared with sandbags

Not all residents are following the order to evacuate.

Bruce Howard has called Forbes home since 1984, and lived through several floods.

Although he lives in one of the evacuation areas, he isn't leaving.

"I believe my property won't be affected, based on history," he said.

Jo Roberts also lives in a low-lying property and is staying put.

"We're all prepared, we've got everything up that we need to have up, we're sandbagged ? hopefully we don't need that," she said.

"I think all we can do is be prepared and wait and see what comes."

Dam overflowing

Forbes Shire Council Mayor, Cr Phyllis Miller urged the community to not be complacent.

"If you suffered at all in 2016 at your property, please do your preparations," she said.

Cr Miller said Forbes always had ample warning for floods, and people had been making the most of the time to water-proof their properties. 

The flood is being intensified by the release of thousands of megalitres from the Wyangala Dam upstream and the swollen Lachlan tributary, the Belubula River.

On Monday, Water NSW spokesman Tony Webber said inflows to dam had been significant and made a tough situation harder.

"What made this more challenging was the dam was already full ? we pulled it down where we could," Mr Webber said.

Mr Webber said the authority would now work to lower the dam back to 100 per cent capacity by mid-week to provide some space for the next round of rainfall.


© ABC 2021

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