WATCH: SES say hundreds did not evacuate when advised
HUNDREDS of people failed to evacuate from their homes when advised to, causing enormous concern to the State Emergency Services and other agencies tasked with retrieving them in torrential and dangerous conditions.
SES Commissioner Mark Smethurst pulled no punches when he made the comments at a media briefing at the Lismore SES headquarters today.
"Of the 420 flood rescues across the state, 407 were from the local area," he said.
"Most were from people trapped in their own buildings, who did not heed the warning when they were told to evacuate. It's been a real problem up here and a real concern to the emergency services working together."
Mr Smethurst said the SES crews have been working non-stop on flood rescues to make sure people were safe from areas where they have been caught out.
"Its been a pretty tough 48 hours on the North Coast, I've just come back from touring the area, worst hit up from my perspective, Lismore has been hit the worst still inundated."
He said Lismore's worst moments occurred on Thursday night when flood waters reached their peak.
"We had crews flat first light yesterday, trying to ascertain the work we had to do," he said.
"It's been pretty hectic".
Over the state, Mr Smethurst said the organisation had responded to 2200 calls for help.
"By Monday we will be into the recovery mode," he said.
"A lot of work has to be done there."
Mr Smethurst said the community will be advised when it will be safe for people to get back to check the state of their homes.
He advised people to stay out of the floodwaters due to health and safety.
"Firstly avoid going into the floodwaters, there's carcasses from livestock and sewage and quite frankly we are better off waiting for the levels to drop to safe amount," he said.
"I know there many people in the community who have been evacuated who are frustrated, all I ask is that they be patient."
Mr Smethurst said the SES also had chaplains on the ground to assist their people dealing with traumatic situations.
He said the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will be visiting the region on Monday for a first-hand look at the disaster zone.
Meanwhile, a small Aboriginal community at Cabbage Tree Island had already evacuated, he said.