Australia – Evacuations After More Floods in New South Wales

Northern parts of New South Wales, Australia were hit with a second major flood on 30 March 2022 after a levee along the Wilsons River in Lismore was breached once again. Residents of Lismore are still recovering from the devastating floods that hit the city from late February this year.

Floods in Lismore, NSW, Australia, 30 March 2022. Photo: NSW SES

New South Wales State Emergency Service issued evacuation orders for Lismore on 29 March 2022 after the Wilsons River started to rise. The orders were later cancelled but reissued on 30 March after the levee which protects the central business district (CBD) of the city was breached. The Bureau of Meteorology said the levee height is 10.65 metres. As of 30 March, the Wilsons River at Lismore stood at 11.40 metres.

In a statement of 30 March, Lismore City Council said “Major flooding is occurring along the Wilsons River. The Wilsons River at Lismore (AHD) may reach around 12.00 metres overnight Wednesday into Thursday, with major flooding. Further rises possible.”

Wilsons River at Lismore, late March 2022. Image: BoM

Heavy rain on 30 March also caused flash flooding in Ballina and Byron Bay. Byron Bay recorded 268.2 mm of rain in 24 hours, while New Italy recorded 400 mm.

As of 30 March there were 16 evacuation orders in place in the Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast regions, affecting over 26,000 people. There were also 5 evacuation warnings in place, affecting a further 12,000 people.

New South Wales State Emergency Service (NSW SES) said “teams continue to respond to requests for assistance from the community with the support of our partner agencies, and have responded to more than 1300 jobs since midnight last night, including 55 flood rescues.” Military personnel have also been deployed to assist in flood-affected areas.

Police and local media reported one person was missing in flooding to the south of Lismore.

Military teams assist in flooded Lismore, NSW Australia, 30 March 2022. Photo; Defence Australia
Military teams assist in flooded Lismore, NSW Australia, 30 March 2022. Photo; Defence Australia

Heavy rain last week from around 24 March caused some flash flooding and rivers to swell. A man died in floodwaters at Coaldale, north of Grafton in northern New South Wales after heavy rainfall 24 to 25 March 2022.

Parts of neighbouring south eastern Queensland also some heavy rain and flooding in recent days. Police reported one person and several dogs died after a vehicle was swept away by floods in Kingsthorpe, northwest of Toowoomba, early 28 March.

One person was missing and later found dead after a vehicle was stuck in floods in North Branch, south of Toowoomba. Also on 28 March a flood emergency was issued for the town of Dalby due to rising levels of the Myall Creek. Several houses were severely damaged and the occupants evacuated. Authorities said around 2,000 houses were affected in total.