41 requests for assistance in under 48 hours to NSW SES units from Eden to Bermagui

The SES responds to a fallen tree on Tathra Bermagui Rd at Mogareeka following storms on May 11 and 12. Photo supplied.
The SES responds to a fallen tree on Tathra Bermagui Rd at Mogareeka following storms on May 11 and 12. Photo supplied.

A combined effort from emergency services has responded to numerous calls for assistance across the region following heavy rains.

Bega, Eden and Bermagui SES volunteers were joined by Eden Fire and Rescue as well as several local RFS teams in response to residents calling for help amid the deluge.

NSW SES Eden unit commander Patricia Daly said that in the last 48 hours they had 41 requests for assistance, with quite a few of them happening overnight Tuesday.

SES Sapphire Coast Cluster Local Commander Michelle de Friskbom said that the majority of incidents that came through in the last two days had been miscellaneous flood jobs.

These included sandbagging, pumping water off of properties, landslips, leaking roofs as well as assistance with fallen trees and two flood and storm rescues.

One involved a rescue in Towamba after a man's vehicle became trapped on an embankment, and the other was a call for an animal rescue for a cow stuck in a dam in Wolumla.

Sadly, Ms de Friskbom said the cow had died before the SES crew arrived.

"We had such intense downpours, some local farmers recorded 150-200mm just overnight," Ms de Friskbom said.

We had such intense downpours, some local farmers recorded 150-200mm just overnight

Michelle de Friskbom, SES Sapphire Coast commander

Ms de Friskbom said there had been around 20 SES volunteers out and about overnight, as well as Tathra and Eden RFS volunteers, Eden Fire and Rescue and the NSW SES Queanbeyan unit that came to assist.

Both Ms de Friskbom and Ms Daly said the SES was grateful for the extra hands.

"We've had some great help from some RFS crews, they helped us do some sandbagging and pumping into the late hours of last night and this morning and that was very much appreciated," Ms Daly said on Wednesday, May 12.

Ms Daly recommended people clear their gutters and check their drains on their properties before a storm hits as these often leads to floodwater accumulation and that will damage property.

"If people aren't able to keep their gutters clear, then when we have really heavy rain, there's nowhere for it to go.

"It can't get out and down fast enough, so it backs up into the roof space or down the sides of the walls."

Another problem the SES crew can be faced with is volunteers being flooded in or not being able to get back due to roads flooding while they're out giving assistance.

"Yesterday we had someone out on jobs during the evening and couldn't get home because the water had come over the Towamba bridge," Ms Daly said.

Requests for SES help continued into the morning of May 12 - Ms de Friskbom said she had just received a request while talking to Australian Community Media.

"Just as we're speaking another job is coming in from Eden for a damaged roof, so the jobs are still coming in," Ms de Friskbom said.

Any community members that are still in need of sandbags and are able to pick up and undertake their own sandbagging protection, are urged to call 132 500 to arrange for a pick up.

State Emergency Service advice

  • Don't drive, ride or walk through flood water.
  • Keep clear of creeks and storm drains.
  • If you are trapped by flash flooding, seek refuge in the highest available place and ring 000 if you need rescue.
  • Be aware that run-off from rainfall in fire affected areas may behave differently and be more rapid. It may also contain debris such as ash, soil, trees and rocks.
  • After bushfires, heavy rain and the loss of foliage can make the ground soft and heavy, leading to a greater chance of landslides.
  • Stay vigilant and monitor conditions. Note that the landscape may have changed following bushfires.

For emergency help in floods and storms, ring your local SES Unit on 132 500