A busy period for emergency services

Johnson Rd, Tuggerah

Winter ended with a deluge of rain causing flooding across the Central Coast, and Spring started with days of fire bans and severe weather warnings of damaging winds up to 75km/h which caused even more havoc for the State Emergency Services.
Days of unrelenting heavy and torrential rain over the last weekend of August took its toll, with many roads swamped, a minor flood warning issued and the State Emergency Services coming to the rescue of 220 households.
The Bureau of Meteorology issued a minor flood warning for Tuggerah Lake on Saturday, August 31, when rainfall caused rising levels across the Wyong River and Tuggerah Lake catchment area during Friday, August 30.
Most of the rain fell on Friday and overnight into Saturday, with Gosford (205mls), Mangrove Mountain (175mls), Norah Head (154mls) recording the highest levels, and significant rainfall at Kangy Angy and Palm Grove.
Tuggerah Lake at Long Jetty had exceeded the minor flood level (0.90m) overnight on Saturday, peaking at 0.91m.
There was minor flooding at Long Jetty, The Entrance and surrounding areas, as well as on low lying farm land, roads and bridges.
Water levels in the upper reaches of Lake Munmorah crept up over banks and swamped foreshore pathways.
Levels on Wyong River held steady at 2.35m on Saturday, but eased to 0.90m by Monday and by Tuesday no further flooding was expected.
Jilliby Creek at Jilliby topped 2.08m on Saturday, but eased to 1.51m on Monday.
At Long Jetty on Tuggerah Lake, water kept rising from 0.84m on Saturday to peak overnight at 0.91m.
Ourimbah Creek had topped 9.72m by early Monday morning.
Wyong State Emergency Services (SES) Unit Commander, Matt le Clercq, said calls for assistance started coming in on Thursday and didn’t ease up until Monday night.
Both SES units at Wyong and Gosford went to the rescue of 220 calls for assistance, 125 of those being in the northern part of the coast.
Le Clercq said that even though the rain had stopped late on Saturday, calls were still coming in through to Monday afternoon.
“The last call we had was a ceiling collapse where water had come into the roof and then over a few days it led to the ceiling collapsing,” he said.
“In terms of major infrastructure damage, we really didn’t have anything, but there were lots of roads cut, just in the usual spots,” le Clercq said.
The road flooding was widespread but, notably at: The Entrance; the Pacific Highway, Wyong; Burns Rd, Ourimbah; Aces Cres, Johnson Rd and Anzac Rd at Tuggerah; Mildon Rd, Wyong; the northern end of Louisiana Rd, Hamlyn Terrace; and, Geoffrey Rd, Berkeley Vale.
“The community was lucky in a way that we didn’t have wind associated with the rain,” le Clercq said.
“If the two go hand in hand, or even if we were to get wind now, because the ground is still quite wet, trees can come down.
“Quite a big tree came down at The Entrance and a couple of trees out Yarramalong way, but other than that, we didn’t get a lot of trees down during the rain.
“Predominantly our issues were flooding, with sand bagging or other water diversions around houses and buildings, and water flooding back into houses after backing up in the gutters.
“We did have a few cars stuck after driving into flood water, luckily none of them were washed off the road, and the people just needed us to walk them out.”
The SES crews worked around the clock from early Friday to Monday night with up to 80 members out in the field at peak times.
All those SES members are volunteers.
Le Clercq said the Wyong unit was well supported by other volunteer SES units.
“We had the newly opened Swansea unit come down to help both Wyong and Gosford, and there were SES units from Canterbury, Penrith, Parramatta and Auburn,” he said.
“The other one that always stands up straight away is our local central coast volunteers, the Volunteer Rescue Association (VRA), they stood up three crews pretty much straight away for us on the Friday night.
“Through Friday we had five Wyong crews and three VRA crews out, and the other days we had the support of the other SES units.”
Last weekend from September 6-8, the SES crews were out in force again, this time to clean up after winds averaging 60km/h to 75km/h
At times, the wind peaked at 90km/h.
Wyong SES attended 25 calls for assistance to remove trees which had been brought down by strong wind gusts.
Le Clercq said there were quite a few large trees down blocking roads, damaging fences, or garages, but even though there were a few garden sheds blown over or fences down and some minor damage to houses, there was no major structural damage.
They were on standby to help the Rural Fire Service (RFS) if needed, but a RFS spokesman said “there were a few little fires here and there but nothing of significance”.
The Central Coast RFS had crews assisting with major fires in Queensland, Armidale and Dorrigo.

Source:
Media release, Sept 2
NSW State Emergency Service
Interview, Sept 4
Bureau of Meteorology
Interviews, Sept 4, Sept 9
Matt le Clercq, Wyong SES Unit Commander
Interview, Sept 9
Rural Fire Service
Journalist, Sue Murray

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