Heavy rainfall cuts off outlying communities in NSW Upper Hunter, farmland impacted

Date: 2021-11-21 23:04:48

Scone in the NSW Hunter Valley is experiencing a “rare” once in 20-year flood event after a weekend of heavy rainfall.

Kingdon Ponds in the Hunter catchment broke the minor flood level of 3.2 metres around 4am and peaked at 3.47 metres near the moderate flood level at about 7:30am.

The State Emergency Service said some “little townships around Scone may be cut off for short periods of time,” including Satur, Rouchel and Turanville.

The Merriwa to Scone Road will also likely be impacted, among other local roads.

The road leading to Middlebrook near Scone has been cut off by flood waters.(Supplied: Kylie Mills)

BOM Meteorologist Helen Reid said flooding in Scone “happens every 20 years or so”.

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Scone Airport recorded 60mm in the 24 hours to 9am, while some outlying areas saw closer to 90mm.

SES Deputy Zone Commander Superintendent Joanna Jones said Hunter crews have responded to nearly 50 calls since Sunday morning.

“Most of those have been storm jobs, so trees down, roof leaks and the like,” Superintendent Jones said. 

“We’ve had 13 flood-related jobs, water over the road, requests for sandbags, help with moving livestock, those sorts of things.”

A flooded brown river flows under an old damaged bridge.
Heavy rainfall has impacted on parts of the Hunter River in the Upper Hunter.(Supplied: Alissa Johnson)

Moving silage to higher ground

Aberdeen dairy farmer Scott Wheatley said he woke to a “sea of water” on his property which is bordered by the Dartbrook River and Kingdon Ponds, near where they meet the Hunter River.

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He said it was the highest the rivers have been “in at least 10 or 12 years”.

“We moved some silage yesterday to what we thought was going to be high enough ground,” he said.

“This morning … by the time we got those 20 odd bales out of the road, one of them almost started to float away.”

Mr Wheatley said he “wasn’t quite quick enough” to save two river pumps and also lost two well pumps that were submerged, but he said after years of drought it was worth it.

“The creek was bone dry [18 months ago]… it’s just amazing how things can turn around.

Don’t risk it

Superintendent Jones urged locals to stay safe.

“Stay out of the rising and fast-flowing water,” she said.

“Floodwater can erode and wash away road surfaces and leave deep holes which can’t be seen so driving through flood water risks the lives of those in the vehicles and also the lives of our volunteers involved in the rescue.”

Meteorologist Helen Reid said some parts of NSW have recorded their November averages in one day, and many have surpassed that figure three times over.

A flooded river under a bridge.
Kingdon Ponds near Scone broke minor flood levels just after 4am this morning.(ABC Upper Hunter: Amelia Bernasconi)

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