Mass evacuations forced in Tweed

Tweed Daily News

HUNDREDS of Tweed residents were being evacuated last night as floodwaters continued to rise.

Parts of Murwillumbah, Tumbulgum, Condong and Fingal Head were evacuated, with further wild weather still to come.

Tweed SES controller Brian Sheahan said the worst case scenario would see 12,000 residents having to be evacuated across Tweed.

Heavy rain and strong winds hit hard last night, causing rivers to swell and trees and powerlines to fall across the region.

The SES began evacuating residents of Fingal Head just before 7pm.

Volunteers walked along Fingal Road, Letitia Road and the streets in between, telling residents they had about six hours to leave.

They told people to pack three days worth of clothes and to move their valuable items to high places.

If they didn't have friends they could stay with, they were encouraged to head to Kingscliff TAFE, where an emergency evacuation centre was set up last night.

Murwillumbah, Tumbulgum and Condong residents began to be evacuated about an hour later.

How is the wild weather affecting you? Tell us your story below or send us photos.

Emergency crews started door-knocking about 350 properties at 8.30pm, worried that the Tweed River would break its levee overnight.

The river was expected to reach a height of four metres at 4am, just 90cm below the crest height.

Residents were being told they had to leave their properties within six hours and relocate to Murwil- lumbah's Catholic Church hall.

Richmond-Tweed SES spokesman Phil Campbell said although the river was not expected to overflow, emergency crews were not taking any chances.

“It's better to undertake the evacuation now while it's early in the evening and people have some- where to go and be well cared for,” he said about 9.15pm. “We wouldn't like to have to wake people up at 2am in the morning.

“Given that it's a large amount of heavy rain heading in, the prudent decision is that while it's safe to do so ... to (evacuate) them now.”

The SES received score of calls last night as the wind picked up and trees were uprooted across the region. Powerlines were brought down in Minjungbal Drive and Dry Dock Road, Tweed Heads South.

Country Energy, police and firefighters secured the area and encouraged people to stay away.

Street lights and traffic lights went out as power failed in parts of Tweed Heads. Three flashes of green light, each followed by a shower of sparks, lit up the night when the electricity substation at Banora Point exploded.

The Bureau of Meteorology was yesterday predicting heavy rain and damaging winds across the north coast would last until Saturday. Up to 110mm of rainfall was recorded across the Tweed River catchment of the Tweed River to 3pm.

How to Prepare

• Check stormwater drains in and around your home are clear to assist run-off.

• Look at the placement of sandbags and other flood mitigation options you might have if you have experienced flooding in the past.

• People living or working along rivers and streams must monitor latest weather forecasts and warnings and be ready to move to higher ground.

• Farmers and other landholders should keep a watch on their streams and be prepared to move pumps, equipment and livestock to higher ground.

• Also, do not drive, ride or walk through or allow children to play in floodwaters.

• Stay away from storm water drains, try where possible to remain indoors, keep batteries, radio and torches close.

View flood photos from south-east Queensland.

For more images of floods around the Sunshine Coast, check out The Sunshine Coast Daily's photo gallery from Wednesday, May 20, and a second flood gallery from Thursday, May 21.


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