6 Mar 2012

Residents ordered out of flood-threatened NSW town

11:09 pm on 6 March 2012

Thousands of residents in the New South Wales inland city of Wagga Wagga in Australia are likely to spend another night away from home with floodwaters rising more slowly than expected.

Tuesday's flood peak was revised down from 10.9 metres to 10.6 metres.

A 10.9-metre peak would have tested the city's levee, potentially causing major flooding of local properties and businesses, the ABC reports.

It now seems central Wagga Wagga is likely to be spared.

About 9000 residents have been issued with evacuation orders, but State Emergency Service deputy commissioner Diter Gescke says they will not be able to send people home until engineering surveys have been completed.

Mr Gescke says it is a waiting game and if all goes well, people may be able to return as early as Wednesday morning.

More than 1000 residents from Wagga Wagga's north and east were evacuated on Sunday night. The town is home to 47,000 people.

The evacuation order comes as the Murrumbidgee River threatened to reach some of the highest levels in 160 years.

South-west of Wagga Wagga, the entire town of Urana, with a population of 400, was evacuated as rising floodwaters threatened essential supplies, sewerage and electricity.

The residents were flown to Albury where they will be taken by bus to an evacuation centre.

At another Riverina town, Gundagai, the Murrumbidgee peaked at 10.85 metres on Monday morning, leading to the evacuation of 120 people from more than 50 homes.

Across New South Wales, 13,000 people have now been ordered to evacuate.

The latest downpour started about a week ago. Heavy rain that had hammered the region eased on Monday with the weather bureau forecasting mostly sunny conditions for Tuesday and Wednesday, and isolated showers for the afternoon and evening on Thursday.

However, the clear conditions won't stop floodwaters from moving downstream and submerging other areas.