Heavy rains hit the region

THE State Emergency Service has experienced a busy 24 hours in the Shellharbour and Kiama areas, as one official likened the inclement weather to the 2011 storms which struck the region.

The organisation also reiterated calls for motorists not to drive through floodwater and take other precautions where possible.

John Wall, deputy controller (operations) at the SES Kiama Unit said 13 volunteers worked through to midnight on Monday night. 

Four were back on deck from 3am until 5am on Tuesday. 

They received 21 calls for assistance up until 10am on Tuesday morning; all have now been completed.

He said although Kiama ‘‘wasn’t too badly affected considering other areas’’, suburbs such as Foxground had been hit hard by the rain. 

‘‘It was pretty incredible,’’ he said.

‘‘The last time I saw anything like that was in August 1998 and the big floods we had then, or the floods of 2011,’’ he said.

‘‘It was well and truly up there with them.’’

Specialist swift water rescue teams from the Kiama Unit were sent north initially to conduct flood rescues of stranded motorists in the Albion Park area. 

At 4.30am a Kiama specialist swift water rescue Team was sent to Fern Street, Gerringong to rescue two people from a partially submerged Toyota Camry just near the Omega Rail Crossing. 

On arrival Gerringong RFS had managed to retrieve drivers from the vehicle which was submerged to its headlights.

‘‘The message is, don’t drive across flooded roads,’’ Mr Wall said.

‘‘Driving through floodwater during the day is a big no-no, but doing it at night is almost a deathwish.

‘‘No job or appointment is worth losing your life over.’’

A deluge of water flowed into the back verandah of a house in Girrawheen Avenue, Kiama about 3am on Tuesday.

‘‘They had a waterfall coming out of their backyard and straight into their house,’’ Mr Wall said.

Mr Wall praised the aforementioned residents for their ‘‘excellent job’’, saying that sometimes the SES were not always able to immediately respond to some requests due to emergencies.

‘‘People can do some things themselves, and what they did was an excellent model,’’ he said.

‘‘Using timber, an old dining room table and some towels, they were able to divert water away from the house and minimise the damage.

‘‘When we got there we were able to use our proper sandbags.’’

Mr Wall said they had also been called to Kiama Hospital, as water was flowing through the roof and into the corridors, leading to the evacuation of one patient for the night. 

Richard Hart, planning and intelligence co-ordinator for the Shellharbour City Unit said they had more than 40 members in the field on Monday, plus another 15 inside their Albion Park headquarters. 

They received 140 requests for assistance within the Shellharbour LGA.

Mr Hart said of those, 130 had been completed by 11am on Tuesday.

Of those 140, eight were flood rescues whereby people were trapped in their vehicles in rising flood water, including one on the highway at Albion Park.

Mr Hart recommended residents check the guttering of their homes, as well as look for any debris in their stormwater drains or driveways prior to further rain.

He also advised that if possible, residents should check their roofs for damage, such as broken guttering or damaged tiles, and possibly have professional workers address any issues. ‘‘We also really would ask parents to be sure where their kids are, and are not riding boogie boards or anything like that in any flooded parkways,’’ he said. 

According to Live Traffic, both the Illawarra Highway and the Princes Highway at Albion Park Rail were closed due to flooding between 8.43pm and 9.44pm on Monday night. 

The South Coast Line was partially closed in both directions between Dapto and Dunmore due to flooding of the line at Oak Flats. 

Flooding continues to affect the Illawarra Highway which remains closed in both directions between the Princes Highway and Tongarra Road in Albion Park.

Motorists are advised to use Tongarra Road as an alternative route. 

Additionally the South Coast Line remains partially closed between Wollongong and Port Kembla, with buses replacing trains between these stations.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the forecast for Albion Park for the remainder of Tuesday is maximum 22 degrees, with rain easing to scattered showers in the afternoon and the chance of thunderstorms. 

Wednesday’s forecast is for cloudy, scattered showers, the chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon, winds southwesterly and light tending east to northeasterly 15 to 20 kilometres/hour in the early afternoon.

If you require assistance from the SES, phone 132500.

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