NSW floods: Forbes residents ordered to evacuate before water closes roads

People in low-lying parts of the New South Wales central western town of Forbes have been ordered to evacuate ahead of major flooding that was predicted to inundate the district within hours.

The evacuation order was issued by the State Emergency Service at 11.15am on Tuesday, warning residents to evacuate before 9.30pm.

“Flood waters will progressively close roads and access will be cut so do not delay moving,” the local SES warned.

“If you remain in the area you will be trapped and it may be too dangerous for SES to rescue you.”

An evacuation centre had been set up at St Andrew’s Presbyterian church for those unable to get to alternative accommodation with family or friends.

The Lachlan River was expected to peak at 10.65 metres in Forbes on Wednesday.

The NSW SES deputy zone commander Barry Griffiths said the evacuation order was issued “to try and give the community as much time as they can to evacuate safely and calmly”.

SES and Rural Fire Service volunteers were doorknocking and delivering about 10,000 sandbags to residents as well as helping prepare properties.

“We are confident that the actions we are taking at the moment are suitable enough for the predicted flood event, but it is going to be a bit of a waiting game over the next 24 hours. We need to see what the water actually does,” Griffiths told the Nine Network.

Moderate flooding had occurred upstream at Cowra, and major flooding occurred at Nanami on Monday night, with the river peaking at more than 12.4 metres.

It was too early to tell how high the river would rise when those flood waters reached Forbes, the Bureau of Meteorology said on Monday, but the SES warned locals in up to 800 homes to prepare to leave before they hit.

Downstream from Forbes, major flooding was also expected at Cottons Weir and Jemalong.

“One fortunate thing about the floods in western NSW is that they’re a slow-moving, evolving event,” the weather bureau hydrologist Justin Robinson said.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to provide them adequate warning and leave time for them to prepare ahead of the floods actually arriving and impacting their personal properties and communities.”

The Macquarie, Paroo, Macintyre, Belubula, and Snowy rivers had also flooded, after parts of the state copped a month’s worth of rain in days.

“Some of those locations (received) even two to three times what you would get in November,” the meteorologist Agata Imielska said on Monday.

“Catchments are wet, dams are full. This is exactly what we’ve been talking about for this season, with the elevated flood risk.

“It is a really important time to really be keeping a very close eye on any flood warnings.”

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