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SES warns against flood complacency in western NSW following several rescues

Tuesday January 11, 2022 - 19:55 AEDT
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SES Western Zone crews have conducted eight flood rescues since January 4. - ABC

The State Emergency Service is warning people against complacency around floodwaters following several rescues in central-western NSW over the weekend. 

Two groups of campers had to be rescued in separate incidents near Bathurst on Sunday after being isolated by floodwaters.

Crews from Bathurst and Sofala also rescued a man and his dog from a rapidly flowing flooded causeway on Saturday afternoon.

While attending that incident, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter flew three people over a flooding river, including one who required medication.

SES Western Zone floods incident controller Superintendent Brigid Rice said eight rescues had been conducted in the region since January 4.

"There's been a lot of storm activity coming through the entire central west area and that creates flash flooding," she said.

"Four of those rescues were local to Sofala and Hill End, where people [were] on their weekend, enjoying the holidays [and] had gone camping."

Since early November, SES Western Zone crews have conducted 121 rescues from floodwaters.

Superintendent Rice, who described that figure as high for the region, said she was worried people had become complacent around floodwaters.

"People have thought that the wet weather is behind us but we're actually looking at an above-average rainfall for the months of January and February, so it can catch people unawares," she said.

"If it was a lake of fire, people would probably not drive into it. We're much more afraid of fire than we are of water, but the reality is that we have far more water deaths."

Campers urged to be wary

Included in the weekend's rescues was a group of 10 campers, whose site became isolated by flash flooding.

Superintendent Rice said it was common for SES crews to be called to rescue isolated campers over the holiday season, but steps could be taken to reduce the risk.

"Check the weather conditions before [you] go camping because flash flooding is what will always catch people out," she said.

"It's always a good idea too, to stop and have a chat to the locals on your way through to a camping area to find out what the dangers are and what might happen if you do get storms.

"They will know what gets cut off and when it can happen very, very quickly."

She urged campers to be careful and reconsider if they needed to cross a river to access their campsite.

"You might drive through a rocky creek bed that doesn't appear to have any water in it but a flash flood can mean that access to the site is suddenly cut.

"Enjoy the summer, go camping, but just be aware of where you're camping and how you got there."


© ABC 2022

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