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NSW: Few remain isolated as flood warnings pass

20 Feb 2009 1:34 PM

SYDNEY, Feb 20 AAP - Authorities have stopped issuing flood warnings for NSW's midnorth coast as residents in several areas wring themselves out after a week of heavy rain.

Some 150 people remained isolated but had received supplies, the State Emergency Service (SES) said.

"The area of Kempsey remains our main concern," SES spokesman Phil Campbell said on Friday.

"South of Kempsey the Maria River has isolated 25 to 30 properties or some 75 people."

Other properties west of Kempsey and southwest of Grafton are also isolated.

The town of Bellingen was deluged by almost 300mm of rain over 24 hours on Tuesday, cutting off access roads and turning paddocks into rivers.

It was one of a number of areas hit by floods over the past week, including Coffs Harbour, Nambucca, Kempsey, Hastings and Bourke - all declared natural disaster zones.

As the Bellinger River reached its peak of more than 7.5 metres on Tuesday, some 4,000 people became isolated with significant damage caused to roads.

On Friday morning the river had dropped below the minor flood level of three metres, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms later in the day and Saturday will have little impact on floodwaters.

Northwest of Moree at Weemelah it is anticipated some 40 people will become isolated for much of the weekend as the Gil Gil Creek rises from passing floodwaters.

Mr Campbell said all residents had been advised of the isolation and were well stocked with supplies.

"The important overall message it that we are not expecting anything like a repeat of the rain we had the other day," he said.

The Insurance Council of Australia said this week it would not collate the cost of damage caused by the NSW floodwaters because it had mainly affected government infrastructure.

At Bourke, the first NSW centre to be declared a natural disaster area, the SES and state government estimated the cost of damage to be about $6 million.

Meanwhile, further south in the state, rain in the past week has increased Sydney's water storage levels by 0.5 per cent.

Total storage is now 60.1 per cent, the Sydney Catchment Authority says.

The city's main storage reservoir, Warragamba Dam, is at 56.9 per cent of capacity, up 0.1 per cent after 55mm of rain fell on its catchment area south and west of Sydney.