NSW storm causes Covid-19 vaccine to be delayed after flashflooding

Flood warning for Sydney rivers and residents south of the city told to prepare to evacuate as once-in-a-century storm cuts vaccine deliveries, houses wash away and dams spill

  • Torrential rain and flooding is battering Australia’s east coast and moving south 
  • BoM warned of ‘potentially life-threatening’ downpour in Sydney on Saturday 
  • Joshua and Sarah tragically lost their home on their wedding day in Taree 
  • Sydneysiders have been told to stay inside on Saturday as downpour continues
  • Incredible drone footage captured Port Macquarie CBD almost underwater 
  • Storm will affect Covid-19 vaccine delivery to over 6.1million Australians 

The wild weather battering New South Wales has delayed the state’s vaccine roll-out as torrential rain and flooding looks set to hammer the state’s east coast until Thursday. 

The Federal Government said the once-in-a-century storm will affect the vaccine delivery of phase 1b to over 6.1million Australians ‘in Sydney and across multiple regional NSW locations’.   

Extreme weather conditions have seen a ‘mini-tornado’ tear through a Sydney suburb and the Warragamba Dam start to spill over – sparking grave fears houses in the city’s west will be flooded. 

Just after 5pm the NSW SES told residents of Picton in the south-west of the city to prepare to evacuate as floodwaters rise to dangerous levels in the Stonequarry Creek.

BoM issued a severe weather warning on Saturday morning covering an area from the mid-north coast to the far south coast of NSW – as well as Canberra.

Major flood warnings have also been issued for the Hawkesbury, Nepean Valley and Colo Rivers as water levels are expected to rise to ‘moderate flood levels’ from late Saturday to Sunday. 

Heavy rain and flooding has trigger evacuations on the New South Wales mid coast with over 120mm rain expected for Sydney and residents urged to stay at home

Sydney’s Warragamba Dam (pictured) has spilled over which could cause chaos for many western suburbs

The Nepean River at Menangle Bridge is expected to exceed the minor flood level by 5.20m around 9pm Saturday. 

Major flooding is possible along the Hawkesbury and Lower Nepean River with minor flooding is current along the Hawkesbury River at North Richmond. 

The Colo River at Putty Road is expected to reach the major flood level of 10.70m on Saturday night and into Sunday. 

The federal government said they were urgently working with doctors administering the vaccine to restore the supply of doses.

‘The Department of Health is working directly with GPs on these issues and we ask for the public’s patience and understanding with these unforeseen supply delays,’ a government spokesperson said.  

Houses are destroyed after flooding following heavy rainfall in Tinonee, New South Wales

A ‘mini-tornado’ that ripped through Chester Hill damaged the roofs of houses 

A young couple’s home was seen floating down the Manning River in Taree 

Joshua and Sarah lost their house on the very day they were supposed to be celebrating their wedding

‘The Department of Health is working with logistics companies and doctors to determine when delivers of the vaccines can be received due to heavy rainfall and flooding.’ 

Speaking in an emergency press conference, NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian said the ‘extreme weather event’ would persist well into next week – with rain not due to stop until Thursday or Friday.  

‘The last time we got major floods in the NSW the weather event passed in two or three days, unfortunately, this will be a deep-seated, extreme weather event,’ she said. 

‘This is an event that will not be going away in the next few days.’   

The weather bureau warned of intense rainfall ‘potentially leading to life-threatening flash flooding’ and damaging winds averaging 60-70km/h with gusts exceeding 90km/h. 

Greater Sydney is being blanketed by a wild storm threatening to cause chaos with heavy rain creating flash flooding and power cuts

Port Macquarie is now almost underwater as the town is lashed with a huge downpour of rain

Floodwaters in Port Macquarie are seen as residents are told to evacuate after a freak weather event (pictured on Saturday)

The Hastings River flooding in Port Macquarie, NSW is pictured on Saturday morning – as millions brace for a weekend of endless wild weather

A ‘mini-tornado’ left a huge path of destruction through Chester Hill in Sydney’s west, damaging several homes and bringing down a tree


Homes have been damaged in Chester Hill after a ‘mini tornado’ tore through the area

The harrowing weather conditions saw a couple who were supposed to be celebrating their wedding instead watched their house float down a river.

The shocking footage shows the home of young couple Joshua and Sarah flowing down the Manning River in Taree on Saturday.  

The ‘mini-tornado’ also left a path of destruction through Chester Hill in Sydney’s west, damaging several homes and bringing down a tree. 

Shocking photos show upturned trampolines stuck to the side of houses while fences were seen completely ripped out of backyards.

After footage of Josh and Sarah’s home circulated online, a GoFundMe page has been set up to support the couple who tragically lost their pets as well as their house. 

Incredible drone footage also captured the mid-north coast town of Port Macquarie almost submerged as flood waters create a path of destruction in the area. 

‘Woke up this morning to these images on my timeline. Unbelievable. Port Macquarie CBD has gone under,’ one local said.  

Volunteers load up sandbags for local residents in Penrith on Saturday

The Parramatta River is also increasingly rising, with water flooding the nearby bike track

Residents living in the Harbour City have been strongly urged to stay inside with the extreme downpour not expected to ease up any time soon. 

Around 120mm of rain is expected to fall on the city with even bigger deluges expected for further up the coast. 

‘We might see quite significant flash flooding and we’ve got a flood watch current for both the Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers,’ bureau flood operations manager Justin Robinson said.

Record breaking rainfall was seen in areas on the mid-north coast such as in Kendall with the town recording more than 400mm of rain, meanwhile up to 300mm is expected in the lower Blue Mountains region.  

Kempsey in NSW is almost completely underwater as heavy rainfall batters the state

‘Brace yourself NSW, more heavy rain, dangerous flooding and thunderstorms are on their way,’ NSW SES tweeted on Saturday morning

Locals are seen having a drink at a pub despite the venue being completely flooded by the wild weather (pictured pub in Telegraph Point, northern NSW)

A koala at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital had a bit of a soaking on Saturday morning during the wild weather

The bureau said strong winds may generate damaging surf, with significant wave heights of five metres in the surf zone bringing potential for coastal erosion.

SES crews undertook at least 500 flood rescues and responded to more than 4,000 calls for help, as a dozen rivers along the NSW coast flooded.

Sydneysiders are being told the best activity for the weekend is to stay indoors.

‘This will be the difference between what could seem like inconvenient rain, to actually something that might be quite dangerous and threatening,’ Agata Imielska from the BoM told the ABC.

‘It is really important for Sydneysiders to be mindful about reconsidering their plans.’  

The Parramatta River is also increasingly rising, with water flooding the nearby bike track. 

A flood marker was seen almost completely submerged as the river looks dangerously close to bursting.

A car is seen submerged in water as wild storms continue to batter NSW’s coast

Incredible drone footage has captured the mid-north coast town of Port Macquarie completely submerged as flood waters create a path of destruction in the area

The Port Macquarie area has been submerged in deep water due to a heavy downpour of rain with no end in sight

The SES have also sent out thousands of ‘evacuate now’ messages to residents in low-lying areas around the state’s mid-north coast.

These include Taree’s CBD, Taree Estate, Dumaresq Island and Cundletown.

Those living in low-lying areas in Port Macquarie and Kempsey have already been evacuated.  

Evacuation orders have also been issued for Wingham, Lower Macleay, North Haven, Dunbogan and Laurieton. 

The regions of Hunter, Metropolitan, Illawarra and parts of Mid North Coast, Central Tablelands, Southern Tablelands, South West Slopes, Snowy Mountains and the ACT are subject to a severe weather warning for heavy rainfall, damaging winds and surf. 

Emergency services have set up nine evacuation centres across the state for residents who have been forced to flee their homes. 

A car is seen driving through floodwaters in Kempsey, in NSW’s mid north coast

BoM issued a severe weather warning on Saturday morning covering an area from the mid-north coast to the far south coast of NSW as well as Canberra

State Emergency Operations Controller, Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys, has appealed for the public to not become complacent.

‘Members of the public in the flood affected areas need to heed the warnings and advice of the NSW State Emergency Service and all emergency services,’ he said.

‘Our message is clear – do not put your life or that of emergency service personnel in danger. Floodwater is extremely dangerous as it can have fast moving undercurrents that can wash people and vehicles away.

‘Everyone should always remember to never drive, ride or walk through floodwater.’

Meanwhile, police are appealing for public assistance to locate missing elderly woman Adele Morrison who was last seen leaving her home in Port Macquarie around 6am on Tuesday.

The 78-year-old was reported missing on Wednesday and police hold grave concerns for the woman due to her age and the severe weather conditions currently in the town.  

Police are appealing for public assistance to locate missing elderly woman Adele Morrison who was last seen leaving her home in Port Macquarie around 6am on Tuesday

A petrol station in Port Macquarie is seen completely covered in water as dangerous storms batter NSW

Ms Morrison attended a shopping centre at Gloucester, which is a two hour drive south of Port Macquarie, at about 10.45am on March 16.

Her whereabouts after this are unknown and family said it was unusual for her to not be in regular contact with them. 

Ms Morrison was believed to have been driving a red 2017 Toyota Corolla with the New South Wales registration plates DSN 47R.

Police issued an urgent text alert to residents in Gloucester, Barrington, Stratford and Weismantels in an urgent bid to find the woman. 

The rain isn’t expected to ease up at all on Saturday (pictured Port Macquarie)

A kangaroo in Lansdowne had a lucky escape after it was caught in raging flood waters on Friday. 

Jenny Farrrell was filming the torrential rain outside her home on NSW’s mid-north coast when she suddenly spotted the animal jumping into the water.

Within seconds the kangaroo was being forced down the rapids as it desperately tried to jump onto the nearby land.

‘Come on buddy, get out, get out,’ Ms Farrell is heard saying in the footage.

Luckily for the kangaroo, it managed to pull itself out of the water and jump onto the grass and hop away. 

Meanwhile, major flooding is also occurring along the Hastings River at Kindee Bridge, Wauchope and Settlement Point.

The Hastings River at Kindee Bridge peaked at 12.1m about 11.00pm on Friday and is currently at 9.87m and falling with major flooding.

HORSE RACING POSTPONED DUE TO WILD WEATHER 

Sydney’s autumn carnival will be rescheduled after heavy rain forced the postponement of the rich Golden Slipper meeting because of unsafe racing conditions.

One of Australian turf’s marquee races, the $3.5 million Golden Slipper for two-year-olds will now be run at Rosehill next Saturday.

The decision to hold over the meeting, which also includes four Group One races on the undercard, will impact on four other prime autumn fixtures.

All Australian Turf Club (ATC) meetings, including two days of The Championships at Randwick, will be pushed back seven days.

The Championships will now be held on April 10 and April 17 with the All Aged Stakes meeting at Randwick closing out the carnival on April 24.

‘Both the ATC and Racing NSW feel that resetting the carnival one week later is the best overall option for participants and the flow of the carnival,’ Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys said.

The worst fears of racing officials were realised on Saturday morning when an early-morning track inspection revealed sections of surface water on the Rosehill track.

Officials said heavy overnight rain with the forecast of much more to come made it impossible for the Golden Slipper, the world’s richest race for juvenile horses, to be run.

Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel inspected the track at 6am (AEDT) after two horses were sent over the course proper in a trackwork gallop to assess its suitability for racing.

Leading jockey Kerrin McEvoy reported the track ‘had a reasonable base to it’ but more rain and a grim forecast dashed any hopes of the meeting going ahead.

‘In the circumstances the track can’t cope with any more rain, it’s full now,’ Van Gestel told Sky Sports radio.

‘Given the forecast for today and the way the morning has unfolded we’re just not in a position to proceed.’

Van Gestel had been confident the showpiece meeting would go ahead after a late Friday inspection.

He was banking on a small break in the weather to provide a window of opportunity to get through the nine-race card before the deluge hit Sydney.

But the meeting’s fate was sealed when Rosehill received 25mm of overnight rain, taking the weekly total to almost 120mm.

It’s the first time since the 1963 Golden Slipper won by Pago Pago that the race has been postponed.

The race was run on the following Wednesday.

Rain is forecast for Sydney throughout most of next week.

The final field and barriers for the 16 Golden Slipper runners will stand with Victorian colt Profiteer the favourite.

However, entries for the meeting’s support races will be reopened, including the Ranvet Stakes where high-class English middle-distance performer Addeybb will make his return to Australian racing. 

Port Macquarie (pictured) received some of the worst flooding on Friday with the weather system to hit the greater Sydney area on Saturday 

The Hastings River at Wauchope is currently at 8.5m and near its peak with major flooding.

The Hastings River at Settlement Point is likely to peak near 2.1m about 10am on Saturday with major flooding.

Major flooding also hit Macksville and Bowraville overnight.

Those living in low-lying areas of Port Macquarie were forced to evacuate on Friday, with a ‘significant’ number of properties set to be inundated.

Nearby areas of North Haven, Dunbogan, Camden Head, Laurieton were also ordered to leave, as well as those living in Kempsey and along the lower Macleay River.

On Friday night, the State Emergency Service told those on low-lying properties in Kempsey, north of Port Macquarie on the mid-north coast, to ‘evacuate the high danger area’ by midnight. 

Rescue crews are pictured saving a group of people in a life raft near Kempsey on the NSW Mid-North Coast

A late-night weather warning from the Bureau of Meteorology has warned of heavy rainfall, damaging winds and surf along a vast stretch of the NSW coast including Sydney

The late-night evacuation order for eastern parts of the regional centre came amid fears the floodwaters could breach the town’s levee and cut off road, internet and phone access.

In the hours before, low-lying properties on the Lower Macleay, north of Kempsey, were ordered to evacuate as well as areas of Port Macquarie – home to almost 50,000 residents. 

The Georges, Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers in the Sydney region are also expected to rise from the floodwaters. 

Authorities have also warned flash-flooding could be ‘life threatening’ with roads likely cut-off by the floodwaters and an increased risk of landslips.   

A landslip at Myers Bluff in Thora, NSW on Friday (pictured) caused a council car to be hit with debris but no-one was injured 

Residents in parts of Port Macquarie (pictured) are being ordered to evacuate as flooding hits the NSW mid-north coast town 

Surfers in Lennox Head, northern NSW, brave the wild weather and huge swells on Friday for a wave (pictured) 

The Macksville Bridge (pictured) near Nambucca Heads in NSW was underwater early on Friday night 

Flash flooding is battering some parts of NSW (pictured) as a huge weather system moves slowly south towards Sydney 

A landslide at Thora in New South Wales on Friday (pictured) caused by soaking rains 


The Hasting River at Long Flat (pictured left) broke its banks on Friday, while the road to Port Macquarie airport (pictured right) was completely underwater 

A deluge of water cause paddocks to flood at Macksville (pictured) on Friday 

Earlier, Sky News Weather meteorologist Alison Osborne said there was some uncertainty about where the heaviest falls will be this weekend.

‘There is a risk of that flooding reaching Sydney and the rain spreading into northern and eastern parts of Victoria,’ she said. 

‘In the outback [where there is less rainfall] there could be many months worth of rain in the next few days.’  

The eastern seaboard of Australia is expected to cop a deluge in the coming days. A severe weather warning for heavy rainfall is now in place for the mid-north coast

WEATHER IN YOUR CITY 

SYDNEY             

Saturday:  Min 19.  Max 25. Rain.

Sunday: Min 20. Max 26. Showers

Monday: Min 19. Max 27. Showers.

BRISBANE      

Saturday: Min 21. Max 28. Showers.

Sunday: Min. 22. Max 27. Showers

Monday: Min 20. Max 27. Shower or two. 

ADELAIDE       

Saturday: Min 19. Max 30. Mostly sunny.

Sunday: Min 20. Max 29. Partly cloudy

Monday: Min 19. Max 25. Partly cloudy. 

CANBERRA     

Saturday: Min 12. Max 20. Showers

Sunday: Min 13. Max 21. Showers

Monday: Min 12. Max 23. Showers. 

MELBOURNE       

Saturday: Min 15. Max 27. Sunny. 

Sunday: Min 17. Max 26. Partly cloudy

Monday: Min 18. Max 26. Shower or two. 

PERTH       

Saturday: Min 22. Max 36. Sunny.

Sunday: Min 21. Max 35. Sunny

Monday: Min 19. Max 31. Sunny. 

HOBART      

Saturday: Min 12. Max 23. Partly cloudy

Sunday: Min 12. Max 23. Partly cloudy

Monday: Min 13. Max 26. Partly cloudy. 

DARWIN            

Saturday: Min 25. Max 32. Shower or two. Possible storm.

Sunday: Min 25. Max 32. Possible shower or storm

Monday: Min 25. Max 32. Shower or two. Possible storm. 

Source: Bureau of Meteorology 

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