An emotional former police officer has confronted the New South Wales premier over the response to a flash-flooding “tsunami” that decimated Eugowra.
One woman died, two men remain are missing and the town’s 750 residents are facing months of recovery after powerful flash flooding flattened much of the town on Monday morning.
Peter Jones, a Eugowra resident and former police officer, approached Dominic Perrottet during his visit to the local SES on Friday.
Jones grew emotional as he said help had not come quickly enough.
“A tsunami – that’s exactly what it was,” Jones said.
“It’s taken us five days to get absolutely nowhere.”
Jones said Eugowra residents were let down by communications outages and a lack of emergency resources.
“People here were left to their own devices,” he said.
“We’ve had no food, no clothing, no one telling us what is going to happen next.”
Jones said evacuees sent to Orange would return to Eugowra with nowhere to live.
“If you’re still in parliament next year, I want a personal date with you in your office or my house … I’ve had a gutful,” he said.
Perrottet said the government had been doing what it could and would follow up on his concerns.
The deputy premier, Paul Toole, said local police had been working hard, and Jones said he was not criticising the town’s efforts.
Flood-weary NSW residents have been warned to expect the disaster to continue into the new year as emergency services brace for more rain over already saturated inland catchments.
Major flooding is expected to continue along several major river systems on Friday, including the Lachlan, Darling and Murrumbidgee rivers, affecting towns including Forbes, Condobolin, Bourke and Hay.
“We still have a widespread, significant emergency response across western and southern NSW,” State Emergency Service chief superintendent Ashley Sullivan told ABC News.
“Particularly concerning is that we are watching a weather system over the weekend where we may see some additional rainfall and strong winds over (those areas).”
The SES conducted five flood rescues across the central-west region in the 24 hours to Friday morning in addition to 244 other calls for assistance.
With some rivers in flood for the past six months, Sullivan said interstate and international help was on hand to relieve fatigued SES personnel.
“This flooding at this rate is anticipated to be around right through Christmas … and right into the new year,” he said.
The prolonged crisis has led NSW Farmers to call for the tripling of federal government emergency flood grants to $75,000.
Producers will struggle to recover without further support, the industry body said.
Defence assistance is also needed to fix damaged roads to get farmers back on their properties to harvest what is left of their crops, NSW Farmers said.
Downstream, Condobolin and Euabalong are bracing for the worst after the Lachlan River rose beyond records set there in 1952.
Water levels in Euabalong are forecast to reach 7.7 metres at the weekend, Condobolin could top 7.6 metres on Monday and further rises later in the week are possible, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
Prolonged major flooding in Forbes isn’t expected to cease until early next week.
Major flooding is also occurring around Hay as the Murrumbidgee River remains high.
The outback town of Bourke will be a cause of concern after the weather bureau predicted the Darling River’s peak about Monday could match the level set in the September 1998 floods.
Much of the country’s southeast will experience clear conditions on Friday morning before thunderstorms return to western NSW in the evening, the BoM said.
Thunderstorms will be widespread across NSW on Saturday before easing on Sunday afternoon.
Renewed showers are not expected to pose a flood risk, the BoM said.