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Snap early morning flood evacuation order shocks small town in NSW Upper Hunter

By Jake Lapham, Amelia Bernasconi, and Bridget Murphy, Tuesday November 23, 2021 - 01:35 AEDT
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Livestock has been moved to higher ground during recent flooding in the Hunter Valley. - ABC

State Emergency Service crews issued a 2am wake-up call to evacuate some Denman residents in the NSW Upper Hunter as moderate flooding lapped at low-lying areas of the town.


Residents in three streets were ordered to leave as the Hunter River peaked at almost 8 metres, threatening the town's power, road access, and sewerage.


The SES has since issued an 'all clear', but further flood warnings have been issued for towns downstream.


The Hunter River is expected to peak at 10 metres tonight, with minor flooding.


Kate Wolfgang said she was taken aback by how fast the water moved.


"We were a bit shocked that it came up that fast but we were prepared," she said.


Ms Wolfgang moved her horses to the local showground late on Monday night and herded cattle to higher ground.


"We're going to move the rest of the horses [today] just to be precautionary," she said. 


Jackson Ball rushed to a neighbouring property to move other horses from a low-lying paddock.


"It took us about four, five hours to get the horses out of the paddock," he said.


The Hunter River has now receded to minor levels at Denman and below minor at Muswellbrook after peaking there at 8.2 metres on Monday afternoon.


Scone also saw a rare flood event this week, when Kingdon Ponds nudged the moderate flood level of 3.5 metres.


Common sense prevailed


Hunter SES Deputy Zone Commander Superintendent Joanna Jones said Denman residents were "really receptive" to evacuation orders overnight and there were no flood rescues.


"We actually did not receive any requests for assistance overnight so that was excellent news," she said.


"It looks like people applied common sense last night and did the right thing.


"The water is receding, it is coming down the rest of the hunter catchment ? so once that water recedes we should see a bit of a reprieve."


Superintendent Jones said the immediate threat had passed and crews, which had also been assisting across western flood-affected regions, were now able to have a break.


"We positioned early, so there's a little bit of fatigue involved when you work overnight but the crews are having a bit of a rest this morning and we have other crews in [Denman] doing a drive around, making sure everything is fine," she said.


"But we do manage our fatigue very well, we are practised at this. So the community can rest assured that we will be in a position to assist whenever needed."


Superintendent Jones said this week's flooding should serve as a reminder to the wider Hunter Valley.


"Whilst today and tomorrow we should see a bit of a reprieve from heavy rainfall, the catchments are still soggy, the rivers and creeks are still swollen and the roads are pretty wet," she said.


"Don't drive through floodwater and prepare for storm season because this is just the start."







- ABC

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