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A search is continuing for a woman in Lismore floodwaters in northern New South Wales after the town’s levee was broken amid the rising new crisis.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Joe Cassar said the missing 55-year-old Nowra woman had been recruited to Lismore as an aged care worker.

“Just before 10pm last night a call was received by an associate that she was trapped in floodwaters,” Assistant Commissioner Cassar said.

Aerial view of Lismore and the flooding permeating the town.
Aerial view of Lismore and the flooding permeating the town. (9News)

Police said the search for the woman had begun at about 9.50pm overnight near Wyrallah Road at Monaltrie, after she was reported to be trapped in her car.

She is still missing, Assistant Commissioner Cassar confirmed.

Police are urging anybody who saw a 2017 white Holden Captiva station wagon, registration YHS 51F, in the greater Lismore area, to come forward.

Wilson River to peak tonight

Authorities expect the Wilson River in Lismore to reach 12 metres later this evening.

During the flood crisis last month, the river reached 14.4 metres.

“Before the record flood we saw through Lismore just a month ago, the prior record we saw was 12.7 metres,” NSW Emergencies Minister Stephanie Cooke said.

Ms Cooke has urged Northern Rivers residents to be prepared to evacuate at short notice as water levels continue to rise.

There are 16 evacuation orders and seven evacuation warnings in place across the Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast, but Ms Cooke warned that number could quickly change.

Lismore inundated by floodwaters as Wilson River expected to peak tonight.
Floodwaters fill the streets of Lismore CBD. (9News)
Lismore inundated by floodwaters as Wilson River expected to peak tonight.
The Wilson River is expected to peak tonight. (9News)

Evacuation orders apply for residents in Lismore, Woodburn, Swan Bay, Broadwater, Wardell, Cabbage Tree Island, the Richmond River at Bungawalbin, Lower Macleay River and low-lying areas of Coraki and New Italy.

North and east Bellingen, low-lying areas of Urunga CBD and Bellinger Keys and low lying areas of Girards Hill, as well as Lismore, have evacuation orders in place.

Damaging winds and heavy rain continue

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has updated the severe weather warning and now the concerns lie in the emergence of damaging winds and further rainfall.

The warning stretches from the Northern Rivers south to the Hunter region.

“There is a severe weather warning for heavy rainfall and damaging winds all the way from Grafton to Forster,” meteorologist Dean Narramore said.

Mr Narramore has warned the state’s mid-north coast is at risk of severe flooding as more rainfall hits the area tonight.

“We expect heavy rainfall, very heavy to intense, 50 to 120 millimetres possible in just a few hours,” he said.

Between 50 to 100 millimetres of rain has fallen in Coffs Harbour today, Mr Narramore said, which has meant the Bellinger River and Orara River have flooded extensively.

Another weather concern is the damaging winds lashing the state’s coast, in particular the state’s mid-north coast.

“These winds are likely to bring trees and powerlines down,” Mr Narramore said.

March 30

Residents watch in horror as town is swallowed by floodwaters

Byron Bay inundated by water

Meanwhile, Byron Bay residents woke up today to find their town underwater after Ballina Shire copped more than 250 millimetres in the last 12 hours.

Locals told 9News they have never seen flooding in the town centre like this.

“I think every shop is flooded… it’s pretty deep,” one local said.

A man and his dog walk through floodwater on March 30, 2022 in Byron Bay, Australia. Evacuation orders have been issued for towns across the NSW Northern Rivers region, with flash flooding expected as heavy rainfall continues. It is the second major flood event for the region this month. (Photo by Dan Peled/Getty Images)
A man and his dog walk through floodwater in Byron Bay. (Getty)
News Agency owner Ron Delardes sweeps floodwater from his business on March 30, 2022 in Byron Bay, Australia. Evacuation orders have been issued for towns across the NSW Northern Rivers region, with flash flooding expected as heavy rainfall continues. It is the second major flood event for the region this month. (Photo by Dan Peled/Getty Images)
News Agency owner Ron Delardes sweeps floodwater from his business in Byron Bay. (Getty)

Locals feel left behind as ‘disaster’ worsens

Residents in Byron have labelled the situation a “disaster”, saying those evacuated to dry areas in the early hours of this morning have now been inundated.

Others said they have been forced to rely on social media for updates in the fast-moving situation as information from the Bureau of Meteorology and State Emergency Service (SES) had been lagging.

An army vehicle drives past debris in the flood-affected city centre on March 29, 2022 in Lismore, Australia. Evacuation orders have been issued for towns across the NSW Northern Rivers region, with flash flooding expected.
An army vehicle drives past debris in the flood-affected city centre on March 29, 2022 in Lismore, Australia. Evacuation orders have been issued for towns across the NSW Northern Rivers region, with flash flooding expected. (Getty)
Residents in Byron Bay have woken to the town flooded, despite being inundated with water no evacuation warnings have been issued.
Residents in Byron Bay have woken to the town flooded. ( Olivia Grace-Curran)

Local Labor MP Justine Elliott has called for evacuation centres to be set up “urgently” in Ballina.

“I have contacted local disaster authorities advising them we urgently need evacuation centres in Byron Bay and Ballina,” she wrote on Twitter, urging those in danger to evacuate now.

Lismore levee overflows as residents urged to flee

A major flood warning is in effect in Lismore. Residents are facing their second flooding crisis in weeks, with waters breaching the town’s levee.

It’s the second time in two days the flood-weary community of Lismore has been ordered to move.

“We have seen the levee in and around Lismore start to overtop, and that will lead to additional flooding, compounded by the flash flooding environment that we saw overnight,” NSW SES Acting Commissioner Daniel Austin said.

“That water will move its way down through the Wilsons and Richmond river systems, through communities as it works its way to the coast.

NSW SES said teams are attending "multiple requests for assistance, patching leaking roofs and laying sandbags."
NSW SES said teams are attending “multiple requests for assistance, patching leaking roofs and laying sandbags.” (NSW SES Ballina)

“We have already issued a number of warnings for communities downstream of Lismore to start to prepare and put in their plans as this water makes its way towards them.”

Ms Elliott has also warned residents in the town that emergency sirens are malfunctioning.

“Sirens will not sound there is a malfunction. You must get out now.”

Police cleaned up a landslide on Bangalow road near Byron Bay.

A small landslide is impacting Bangalow road near Byron Bay.
A small landslide is impacting Bangalow road near Byron Bay. (Josephine Shannon)
Floodwater inundates a road on March 29, 2022 in Lismore, Australia.
Floodwater inundates a road on March 29, 2022 in Lismore, Australia. (Getty)

Since 9am yesterday, Lismore has received 219.4 mm of rain, Mullumbimby has seen 138.2 mm, Billinudgel 138.2 mm and Ballina copped around 239 mm, with around 100mm said to fall in an hour.

Source: 9News

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