A five-year-old child is missing after being washed away in floodwaters in western NSW.
Two vehicles became trapped in floodwaters on McGrane Way at Tullamore, northwest of Parkes, about 8pm on Friday.
Emergency services rescued four people who were clinging to trees, but were told the child had not been accounted for.
The vehicles remain submerged and police are onsite waiting until they can access them.
‘Evolving’ weather system
The menacing low pressure system that brought torrential rain and flooded dozens of river systems has begun to move offshore, however the situation is still “evolving”, according to forecasters.
Heavy falls eased in inland NSW and the state’s north coast on Friday, leading forecasters to cancel a severe weather warning as the low pressure system began to move offshore.
“This is an evolving situation and the Bureau of Meteorology is monitoring rainfall and river heights closely,” the BOM said in a statement on Friday.
Flood warnings remain active for 28 river systems from the inland west, through to the Northern Rivers and the Mid North Coast on Saturday.
Severe thunderstorms are predicted to dump more buckets of rain over the east coast on Saturday, as cells stretch from the Queensland border to the Blue Mountains, raising a risk of flash flooding, downed trees, fallen powerlines and dangerous driving conditions.
Flood warnings remain in place for the Tweed, Wilsons, Clarence, Bellinger, Nambucca, Macleay, Orara, Upper Macintyre, Macintyre, Gwydir, Peel, Namoi, Castlereagh, Macquarie, Bogan, Lachlan, Murrumbidgee, Belubula, Culgoa, Birrie, Bokhara, Narran, Warrego, Paroo, Darling and Upper Murray, Murray and Edward Rivers.
In the town of Gunnedah, home to 9000 people, the Namoi River passed major flood levels, reaching the 7.9 metre mark late on Friday night and expected to peak at 8.3m on Saturday morning.
At Wee Waa, just 120km northwest, floodwaters peaked at the Namoi on Thursday and are falling slowly, with the BOM predicting they will remain above major flood levels until next week.
Wee Waa, a cotton town, is protected by an 8km levee, however, Narrabri Shire mayor Ron Campbell told AAP the rainfall has destroyed local roads.
“If we get substantial rain across the summer, we could have a record flood for sure – probably something not seen since the 1970s,” Mr Campbell said.
The wet weather had caused huge anxiety for the Tumbulgum community on the Tweed River, as locals saw the river burst its banks on to their paddocks on Friday.
‘Always very on edge’
Many locals remained hyper vigilant after major flooding hit the region earlier this year, Husk Distillers co-owner Harriet Messenger told AAP.
“Everybody in the region is always very on edge – particularly so close to another major event,” she said.
Farmers in north Queensland also faced an anxious few days after heavy falls in the state’s north, however a severe thunderstorm warning was cancelled on Friday.
Currumbin Valley organic farmer David Freeman suffered losses of his leafy green crops, and told AAP he feared the wild weather may have killed half his avocado trees.
“They’re very sick as a result of the last 12 months of heavy rain because of the saturated soil … and this deluge is just going to re-saturate the soil and will cause more soil fungus problems,” Mr Freeman said.
“(The rain) is weighing heavily on farmers because we just got trashed in the early part of this year.”