Flood waters are subsiding in several New South Wales towns with others now on high alert as Victorian authorities issued another evacuation warning for a community on the Murray River.
The Lachlan River at Forbes in the NSW central-west reached a peak of about 10.7 metres on Saturday – slightly below the record set in 1952.
Flood waters were receding on Sunday morning in the town, which has been effectively cut in half due to road closures, although it remained too early to measure the scale of the damage.
“It’s going to be a big couple of days of emergency response in this community until these flood waters recede and then we can get in and do those damage assessments,” State Emergency Service chief superintendent Ashley Sullivan told ABC TV.
The SES Forbes unit commander, Robert Walshaw, expected the clean-up to be a slow process because it would take several days for the flood waters to drain.
“I’ve seen shots of it from the air … and it’s just water everywhere,” he said.
There were warnings in place for Forbes residents regarding fast-flowing water that could have contaminants such as toxic chemicals and sewerage.
The NSW SES fielded 105 calls for help in Forbes on Saturday while statewide it said on Sunday morning there had been more than 250 requests for help in the previous 24 hours and 25 flood rescues. There were 97 warnings in place including 21 at an emergency level, 58 watch and act alerts and 18 advice messages.
In Wagga Wagga evacuation orders were lifted and people were told they could return to their homes after the Murrumbidgee River peaked on Friday at 9.72 metres – the highest level in a decade.
There were major flood warnings in place across NSW on Sunday morning including for potential inundation at Narrandera on Tuesday.
Renewed river rises were likely at Carrathool and farther downstream at Hay, with major flooding at Hay possible from mid-November.
In Victoria, authorities warned people at Kenley just outside Swan Hill on the Murray River to evacuate immediately on Sunday morning. More than 40 flood alerts remain active in the state.
Water levels at Mildura were expected to continue rising throughout November before a possible high in December.
Along the Murray River at Echuca and Moama, major flooding was expected to continue during the week although water levels were falling.