News, weather warning

Beaches closed ahead of abnormally high tides, heavy rain and damaging winds

ILLAWARRA residents are advised to take care ahead of this week’s forecast of challenging weather conditions.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a series of weather warnings for the NSW coast, including Wollongong and its northern suburbs, predicting damaging surf, abnormally high tides, damaging winds and heavy rainfall.

The weather is anticipated to arrive tonight or tomorrow morning as an east coast low reaches the region.

“We are no strangers to an east coast low in our city and we’ve seen the damage it can do to our coastal areas,” Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said.

“We also know the impact flash flooding can have.

“We are appealing for everyone in our community to stay safe. Please, take the appropriate steps to prepare your property, as recommended by the SES, do not go out and about unnecessarily, and if you’re on the road and you see it is flooded, please don’t take the risk and drive through it.’’

Wollongong City Council General Manager Greg Doyle said staff were preparing to support agencies like NSW Police and the SES, should Council be called upon to provide assistance.

All of Council’s 17 patrolled beaches were officially closed this morning. It’s anticipated that they will also remain closed tomorrow due to the increasing swell size, and predicted high tides.

“We have been in regular contact with representatives from Resilience NSW and the SES over the past few days and we have been taking steps behind-the-scenes to support their preparation by, for instance, filling and stockpiling a limited number of sandbags at our three works depots. We are asking people to be mindful if they do require sandbags and to only take what they need so that those who are at most at-risk in our community have access to the sandbags,’’ he said.

“Our staff have also been out and about inspecting higher-risk locations where we know flash flooding may occur to make sure that these locations are as prepared as they can be. Today, our crews have been out inspecting our city’s culverts and stormwater infrastructure as part of our preparedness.

“We’ll have staff on standby with “water over road” or “road closed” signage so that we can work with emergency services to support drivers to move about more safely. And have teams ready should the forecast strong winds bring down any trees in public spaces. Their focus will be on making these areas safe as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

Mr Doyle said a positive out of the recent rains is that locations where creeks meet the sea like at Puckeys Estate and Towradgi, a path has already been cleared through the sand by recent falls.

“We know Wollongong is an area that is prone to flash flooding and Council has been carrying out a significant amount of work in recent years to reduce this risk,’’ Mr Doyle said.

“We’ve invested heavily in our flood risk and stormwater management programs so that we can better manage weather forecasts like this, and their possible impact on infrastructure such as roads and pathways, and property. Over the next few days our focus will continue to be on supporting our community and staff to stay safe.’’

Cr Bradbery encouraged residents to stay up to date by listening to ABC Illawarra and following Wollongong City Council’s social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.

“We only have to look at our northern neighbours in Lismore or in Brisbane to see the challenges that such difficult weather forecasts can bring,’’ Cr Bradbery said.

“I know we have those who are already faced with floods in our hearts and minds right now, and we extend a sympathetic ear to their plight. I’m appealing to everyone in our community to be safe over the coming days and to look out for one another.’’

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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


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