Emergency services kept busy with rescues
IT WAS a weekend of dramatic floodwater rescues on the Northern Rivers that kept local emergency services busy and prompted repeated appeals from the SES and police for people to stay out of floodwaters.
The Woodburn SES was called to rescue five Japanese tourists by helicopter from the Bungawalbyn area early Saturday morning.
The group had flown into Coolangatta on Friday evening and were driving down to Sydney, the SES said
They said it seemed the tourists had programmed their GPS wrong, or taken a wrong turn and ended up lost and driving through a dangerous area due to floodwaters about midnight on Friday.
Their car was washed off the road, taking all their possessions and four out of five of their passports, the SES said.
The five then swam to dry land and sat, cold and wet, for five hours until daylight on Saturday morning when they were rescued by the SES.
When found, the five were very cold, covered in mosquito and bug bites, but still in quite good spirits, the SES said
The SES, local welfare services and Japanese embassy have been working together to assist the tourists.
In another rescue incident, a 68-year-old man drove his Mazda Bravo utility into floodwaters on Ellangowan Road, Ellangowan, early Saturday morning, despite signs warning of water over the causeway.
As the man drove into the causeway, water began rising to the bonnet of his car and then pushed the car off the road and began floating it downstream.
Luckily, the man managed to get out of the car before it was fully submerged, but was then washed about 100m downstream before he was able to grab hold of a tree.
He was stuck there for around an hour-and-a-half before a passer-by who had stopped at the causeway due to the water heard the man's cries for help.
She called a nearby resident who waded through water towards the man but wasn't able to reach him due to the strength of the current.
Police and Casino Volunteer Rescue Association (VRA) officers attended a short time later and conducted a swift-water rescue of the stranded man.
He was treated by NSW Ambulance Paramedics for mild hypothermia before being taken to Casino Memorial Hospital.
In yet another dramatic rescue on Saturday, a family of three were rescued from the roof of their car on Bangalow Road near Lagoons Grass after ignoring warning signs of water of the road..
About 10.30am the three people, two adults and a child, became trapped in floodwaters and were subsequently rescued from the roof of their car by the SES, said Sergeant Dave Longfield, of Richmond Local Area Command.
Sgt Longfield said that the police were concerned that many motorists had chosen to drive around road closed signs and ignore the warnings.
"It was more by good luck than good judgment that more rescues didn't have to occur," Sgt Longfield said.
Deputy State Emergency Operations Controller, Assistant Commissioner Alan Clarke repeated his warning to motorists about the dangers of floodwater and the importance of abiding by signage.
"Roads are closed for a very good reason; they are flooded and dangerous," he said.
"We are again appealing for motorists and members of the public to never enter floodwaters or cross flooded causeways.
"It is dangerous for them and for those who have to rescue them."