The carpark behind Sportspower Super Warehouse Lismore was completely submerged around 10am Sunday.
The carpark behind Sportspower Super Warehouse Lismore was completely submerged around 10am Sunday. Cathryn McLauchlan

Driving through flood water? You could face jail time

JAIL time is on the cards for drivers who risk their lives and those of the emergency service workers and volunteers forced to rescue them from flood waters.

Richmond police Detective Chief Inspector Cameron Lindsay said there were a raft of offences people could be liable for, but these were nothing compared to what may happen if someone lost their life in flood water.

"If you drive into flood waters and someone's hurt as a result, you may find yourself with jail time," he said.

"If someone is injured there may be cause for driving recklessly and endangering someone's life and that's a significant offence and one they might find themselves in front of a magistrate."

They also face fines of up to $1000.

Despite repeated warnings and pleas for drivers to stay clear of flooded roads, emergency services were still forced to respond to an alarming number of flood rescues over the weekend.

Richmond/Tweed SES region controller Andrew McPhee said it was "frustrating" to have to allocate resources to avoidable incidents during a severe weather event.

"I don't know what more we can do," he said.

"The SES can only re-state that warning at every opportunity we have and then it does come down to people being responsible for their actions.

"And they need to understand that it is dangerous and they're not only putting their own lives in danger but putting the lives of our volunteer rescue crews in danger as well."

Mr McPhee said there was also a range of physical and psychological affects for volunteers to contend with after being involved in traumatic rescues.

He said one example was Saturday night when SES volunteers were called to a dangerous rescue job late at night, with few reference points, in treacherous waters with one member required to get in the flood water.

"We say don't go into flood waters for a number of reasons," he said.

"Obviously they're dangerous because of the high flow of water and the debris in the water, but there's also pathogens, there's raw sewerage, there's a whole stack on contaminates potentially in flood water that just make it unsafe."

Lismore MP Thomas George said he was "disgusted" by the number of rescues that had to take place and would be talking to the Ministers for Police and Emergency Service about what action needs to be taken.

"I do not support anyone putting themselves, the public or emergency service workers lives at risk by entering flood waters," he said.

"Last weekend I was disgusted to learn that in excess of 60 rescues had to take place. It just proves people are not heeding the warning.

"I will be discussing the issue with the Ministers for Police & Emergency Services to see what action needs to be taken to make people listen."



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