Daring flood rescue caught on video
A young child and two women are airlifted to safety after their car became trapped in fast-rising flood waters in the Australian state of Q…
A toddler rescued by helicopter from floodwaters in Biloela. Picture: Channel 7 Source: The Daily Telegraph
A camera on a rescuer’s helmet captured the heart-stopping, and dangerous, operation. Picture: Channel 7 Source: The Daily Telegraph
MORE than 2000 passengers have been left stranded at sea a result of the state’s recent rough weather.
P&O Cruise liner the Pacific Jewel was due back in Sydney early tomorrow morning, before being told to slow her course in order to avoid the rough weather.
“Weather maps suggested the boat might hit heavy swells, so in order to maintain the safety and comfort of our passengers the boat will now dock a day later instead,” a spokesman told The Daily Telegraph.
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Fellow mega-cruise liner the Pacific Pearl was also due back to Sydney was due to head off for a New Zealand cruse today, but will now stay in port overnight until the front has passed to the south.
Earlier, home and business owners gathered at Brelsford Park in Coffs Harbour, in the city centre, to make sandbags in a bid to protect their properties from flooding.
Nerves are running high at homes along Coffs Creek which runs through the centre of the Mid North Coast holiday town.
Long-time resident Bill Lulham said his home had flooded twice before when the river burst it banks.
He said it was too early to tell if it would flood again.
“Different people are saying different things,” he said.
“I hope it doesn’t.”
Parts of Coffs Harbour Airport are also flooded with incoming planes having to make several attempts to land in strong winds.
Bill Lulham watches Coffs Creek on the rise in Coffs Harbour. Picture: Bradley Hunter Source: The Daily Telegraph
A total of 40.2 mm of rain has fallen in Coffs Harbour since 9am while the region has experienced wind gusts of 48km/h.
Many shops remain closed and sandbagged in the centre of town while water is leaking through the roof of the local shopping centre.
Flooding has prompted police to close the Pacific Highway just south of Grafton earlier today.
The closure could hardly have come at a worse time for tens of thousands of motorists returning home after the school holiday break.
Police said a diversion was in place via Clarenza.
The Gwydir Highway is also closed at the Gibraltar Ranges and is expected to remain that way until this evening at least.
“The situation is changing quickly so motorists are advised to avoid travel if possible,” police said this morning.
Spokesman Phil Campbell said rescues were under way near Lismore and in the Tweed region of the far north coast, both to save people trapped in cars that have become stranded on flooded roads.
The SES has received more that 700 calls for help in the past 72 hours, most of which have been since yesterday morning from residents in northern NSW, parts of which have recorded more than 500mm of rain since the start of the weekend.
“Many of those relate to localised flash flooding and leaking roofs but we’ve got winds gusting to 107km/h now and that’s bringing down trees and branches and causing a bit of property damage,” Mr Campbell said.
“Nothing too major yet but it’s still early days.”
“One of the biggest concerns for us is the large number of holiday-makers returning home after the long weekend. It’s going to be a very difficult and potentially very dangerous commute.”
Flood rescue teams have already been deployed to areas expected to bear the brunt of a low pressure system moving south from Queensland, and Mr Campbell said hundreds of other volunteers were on standby.
Local Coffs Harbour residents start bagging up sand bags in preparation of the floods. Picture: Bradley Hunter Source: The Daily Telegraph
Weatherwatch meteorologist Don White said the middle of the system was still in Queensland but would soon cross the border, gaining velocity as it moved further south.
Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and the Hunter Region will be among the worst-hit today, with Sydney expected to cop its worst weather tonight and early tomorrow morning.
Mr White said low-level flooding was likely throughout coastal NSW.
Parts of the Blue Mountains were likely to record some of the highest falls around Sydney.
But there is some good news – the fact the wet weather system is gaining speed means it is likely to pass quickly rather than staying in one place and dumping torrential, continuous rain for days on end, as has been the case in Queensland.Earlier, Jetstar grounded all flights to Ballina, the Gold Coast and Brisbane from Sydney Airport due to high winds this morning.
Hundreds of travellers remain in the packed terminal waiting for information on the conditions but staff say there is no indication on when they will be able to fly.
Flash flooding, heavy rains and destructive winds are also set to intensify in NSW, as wild weather attached to ex-cyclone Oswald isolates almost 2000 people in the state’s north.
The Bureau of Meteorology said Oswald, which was looming over southern Queensland early today, is forecast to slowly move into northern NSW later in the morning before surging rapidly south-southeastwards.
A severe weather warning has been issued for much of the state, including Sydney, the Northern Rivers, the mid North Coast, the Hunter, the Northern and Central Tablelands and the Illawarra, with people being warned of flash flooding and gusts of up to 140km/h.
Yesterday, a toddler was put in a bag and winched to safety as raging floodwaters threatened to sweep him and two women from the back of their ute.
The rescue, captured on camera by the heroic rescuer who was lowered down to the stricken vehicle at Biloela, central Queensland, came on a day of drama as a huge storm cell battered the Sunshine State and dumped torrential rain on most of the country’s east coast.
After the terrified boy was lifted to the helicopter hovering above, footage showed him being taken out of the waterproof bag minutes before the two women were rescued.
Elsewhere in Queensland, an elderly man’s body was found in floodwaters at Burnett Heads and there were fears for two other people who went missing during the day.
And the wild weather isn’t confined to north of the border – northern NSW and Sydney have been put on alert as the huge storm cell, formerly tropical cyclone Oswald, surges south.
That was the message from the SES, busy preparing for an onslaught of destruction.
NSW is on red alert for flash flooding, damaging winds of up to 130km/h and huge seas similar to those that have caused havoc across Queensland – including reports of up to six small tornadoes – since the low pressure system made landfall on Cape York Peninsula six days ago.
SES spokesman Phil Campbell said the worst of the weather for Sydney was expected to arrive this evening between 5pm and midnight, bringing damaging winds of more than 100km/h, heavy seas and flash flooding.
“If it’s Brisbane’s turn to cop it (last night) then it’s Sydney’s (tonight),” he said.
However the focus early today will be the north coast and northern rivers where the SES yesterday flew in 53 flood rescue specialists in readiness with “quite a lot” more on standby in Sydney.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman yesterday called for army helicopters to help in Bundaberg, where 300 homes and 100 businesses were expected to be inundated by floods overnight. Some homes had only just been rebuilt following devastating floods two years ago.
Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said officers had recovered the body of an elderly man at Burnett Heads but, with next of kin yet to be advised, he would not reveal further details.
In Gympie, a 27-year-old man is missing after being swept away trying to cross the swollen Widgee Creek. A man and a woman he was with were rescued. There are also fears for a woman who drove into floodwaters at Pacific Haven near Maryborough.
Five small twisters tore roofs from houses, brought down powerlines and uprooted trees as they ripped into Bargara, Burnett Heads and Coonarr near Bundaberg, leaving some 20 people injured. Another tornado was reported at Mooloolaba.
More than 60,000 homes were without power across southeast Queensland late yesterday, with that figure expected to rise.
Bundaberg was cut in half when two bridges were closed as the Burnett River rose to 7.2m, but mayor Mal Forman said it was expected to peak at 9m tomorrow, resulting in the worst flooding since 1984.
Two helicopters saved a couple who were left clinging to a log in rising water after their boat capsized at Pacific Haven, southeast of Childers, which had been cut off. The woman was winched to safety, while the man was able to wade to the bank and return to their home.
The aircraft carried out another rescue in the same town of an elderly man with mobility issues and his wife, who were both winched to safety from their home.
In NSW, the SES fielded more than 210 calls for assistance yesterday, including a person trapped by rising water in a caravan at Crookwell and two people trapped in cars in separate incidents at Tenterfield and Orange.
The Fire and Rescue NSW helicopter was also called to rescue campers stranded by rising water near Grafton shortly after 11am.
The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning for heavy surf and coastal erosion for Sydney, northern rivers, mid-north coast, Hunter and Illawarra regions.
More than 200mm of rain was recorded in the 24 hours to 9am yesterday at Upper Rous River in the far north.