Australia – 2 Missing in New South Wales as Forbes Prepares for Record Breaking Floods

Emergency crews are searching for 2 people who are missing after a vehicle was swept away by flood waters near Boorowa, New South Wales (NSW), Australia.

Meanwhile authorities said that rivers are rising following dam releases and further heavy rain in late October, and warned of record-breaking floods along the Lachlan River in the town of Forbes.

New South Wales has endured weeks of severe weather including very heavy rainfall and widespread flooding. State Emergency Service (NSW SES) said teams have responded to over 10,000 requests for assistance in the last 7 weeks.

Two Missing Near Boorowa

NSW Police said a multi-agency search is continuing after 2 people were reported missing when a vehicle was swept into floodwaters in Bevendale, about 50km east of Boorowa on 31 October 2022.

Police were told a utility vehicle attempted to cross a flooded causeway at Prestons Creek when it was swept off the road by water. Two men managed to free themselves from the cabin of the vehicle. However, two others believed to have been travelling in the vehicle have not been located.

Evacuations in Cootamundra, Adelong and Moama

On 31 October 2022, around 400 properties in the Cootamundra area were evacuated due to heavy rainfall along the Muttama and Jindalee Creeks.

Evacuation orders were also issued for residents in Adelong and further south for residents along the Murray River in areas around Moama.

NSW Rural Fire Service said a frightening moment occurred near the township of Adelong, when a car was washed down the creek. “Thankfully no one was in the car at the time,” the service said.

Flash floods dragged sept away an empty vehicle in Adelong, NSW Australia, November 2022. Photo: NSW Rural Fire Service

“Blue-Sky Floods”

The rain has since eased but rivers are still rising, causing problems in several communities. In 24 hours to 02 November, NSW SES has responded to 547 requests for assistance and 27 flood rescues in areas including Cowra, Tamworth, Albury, Gundagai and Forbes.

NSW SES said that, despite a brief pause in rainfall, water is still moving quickly in riverine and catchments, in particular along the Murrumbidgee River in Wagga Wagga and Gundagai, and the Lachlan River near the town of Forbes.

NSW SES Assistant Commissioner Nicole Hogan said “What we’re seeing in areas like Forbes is referred to as “blue-sky floods”. Even when the rain has stopped falling, water is continuing to move downstream through various catchments, creating issues with river rises and renewed flood peaks.”

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said:

“Along the Murrumbidgee River, spills from the Burrinjuck Dam combined with inflows from the Tumut River and other tributaries have caused major flooding at Gundagai, where the river level exceeded the April 1989 flood and is near the peak. At Wagga Wagga moderate flooding is occurring with major flooding possible from Friday.”

Murrumbidgee River at Gundagai NSW, Australia, November 2022. Image: BoM
Murrumbidgee River at Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia, November 2022. Image: BoM

Record Breaking Floods Expected in Forbes

Authorities are preparing for potentially record-breaking floods along the Lachlan River at Forbes. NSW SES Assistant Commissioner Nicole Hogan said people in the Forbes area have seen flooding before, but not to this extent in recent times.

BoM said:

“Rainfall over the past several days and weeks have caused renewed and prolonged flooding along the Lachlan River and its tributaries. Spills from Wyangala Dam combined with inflows from the Boorowa River have caused moderate flooding along the Lachlan River at Cowra, with river levels remaining steady since midnight Wednesday near 13.25 m just below the major flood level of 13.4 m.

“River levels at Nanami exceeded the major flood level (10.7 m) around 4:00 am Wednesday morning, with the peak expected overnight Wednesday into Thursday. As the peak moves downstream, river levels at Forbes are likely to exceed the major flood level (10.55 m) during Thursday and may reach levels similar to June 1952 (10.8 m) flood during Friday.”

Lachlan River at Nanami, NSW, Australia, November 2022. Image: BoM