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The NSW SES has announced residents in low-lying areas of Mullumbimby, North Macksville, Kings Point, Nambucca Heads, Condong, Tumbulgum and Kyogle can return home.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said the northern rivers and the mid north coast will only see isolated showers today.
There is however a risk of severe thunderstorms in the Hunter and lower mid north coast.
Lismore is beginning to see an end to the floodwaters, as the council said earlier the Wilsons River is “slowly receding” and has fallen below the height of the levee which overtopped yesterday.
The river now sits at 10.47 metres after peaking at 11.4 metres last night.
“River levels are likely to remain above the major flood level (9.7m) on Thursday,” Lismore City Council said on Facebook.
Recovery efforts underway
Fire and Rescue NSW teams helped to evacuate a two-year-old boy with breathing difficulties from his home in Congarinni North, in the northern rivers, yesterday.
SES on-water teams and firefighters travelled two kilometres along the river in Macksville to medically evacuate the little boy and his mother to a waiting ambulance.
The boy was in a stable condition.
Dozens of semi-trailers have been loaded with more than 1600 bales of hay and are headed to Lismore.
The hay supply will support the state’s far north coast farmers who have been hit by two devastating floods in just four weeks.
Airport closed due to floods
All commercial flights in and out of Ballina Byron Airport today and tomorrow have been cancelled due to the flood disaster.
Limited services will be operating over the weekend.
The airport is shut as the runway needs to dry out before commercial flights can resume.
Storm system heads south
Strong winds are being felt across the state with a Gale Warning issued for NSW’s north, down to the south coast.
NSW Emergencies Minister Steph Cooke said communities south of the northern rivers were going to be impacted.
“The weather system is making its way down the east coast, and we will see other communities impacted as it moves south over the next couple of days,” Ms Cooke said.
Communities that live on or near the Wilsons, Richmond, Clarence and Yarrara Rivers, particularly downstream whether flood events are current, have been urged to stay up-to-date with the latest forecast and warnings.
The BoM has also issued a damaging surf warning for people in parts of Mid North Coast, Hunter, Metropolitan, Illawarra and South Coast Forecast Districts.
“Damaging surf along central and southern NSW coast developing Thursday afternoon. Abnormally high tides possible along parts of the Mid North Coast from Thursday morning,” it said.
The sea is being whipped by a low pressure system which currently lies about 280 kilometres off northern NSW, while a slow-moving high pressure system is situated south of the Bight.
A severe weather warning is also in place from Kempsey, south to the Victorian border, warning of abnormally high tides, dangerous surf and strong, gusty winds.
Coastal erosion is also possible, particularly on south-facing beaches.
More than 20 flood warnings for river systems are in place across the North and Mid North Coast down to Sydney’s Hawkesbury, where a minor flood warning has been issued.
NSW SES Deputy Commissioner Daniel Austin has warned that while the threat of flash flooding from rainfall is diminished, “significant riverine flooding” was still ongoing.
“That water needs to discharge through these systems,” he said.
“The riverine threat is certainly not over at this point in time.”
The SES received just over 100 calls for assistance in the past 24 hours, including 11 flood rescues.
Most of the rescues were during the day yesterday, with communities caught by rapid-rising flash floods on the Mid North Coast.
Search for missing aged care nurse
Police have issued an urgent appeal for information as the search for a missing 55-year-old continues.
Anita Brakel was last seen in her car on Tuesday evening.
NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Joe Cassar said Ms Brakel, who originally lived in Nowra, had been recruited to Lismore as an aged care worker.
It’s the second time the town has flooded in a month, with February bringing a flood peak of more than 14 metres.
In total the unit were tasked with just under 100 requests for assistance, including flood evacuations, support and storm jobs.
Fire and Rescue NSW teams were also on hand to assist, and helped paramedics reach an eight-year-old boy suffering from COVID-19 isolated by floodwaters at Bucca, north of Coffs Harbour.
About 6000 people remain without power, with Deputy Commissioner Austin noting “many infrastructure challenges” in the Northern Rivers.
“We see many businesses and homes and including some of the emergency services in the community that are still in a state of repair,” he said.
“We will continue to work as quickly as we can to restore those, and I am confident that those issues have not hampered our response during this particular time.”
Ballina residents begin clean-up
Ballina residents have also criticised a lack of evacuation warnings as they woke up to a town underwater yesterday morning.
Long-time Byron resident Marc Wilson told 9News the flooding was the “worst I’ve ever seen”.
“We knew a storm was coming just not to the extreme it did come.
“Otherwise, I’m sure a lot of these shops would have sandbagged and done a lot of preparation if they knew it would be as severe as it was.”