ROLLING COVERAGE: Storms and wild weather batter our coastline

WATCH THIS SPACE: We're working to bring you the latest wild weather updates in the Port Macquarie area when they become available.

A minor flood warning is in place across the region and attention has now turned to dangerous surf conditions as the sun makes an appearance. Call the SES on 132 500 for help.

Do you have photos? Send them through to gordon.wiegold@fairfaxmedia.com.au

*Local warning for campers

*Motorists urged to reconsider travel

Scroll down to check out the weather radar

VIDEO of Oxley Beach foam

VIDEO of Mud sliding

UPDATE: 9.20pm

Avoid contaminated floodwaters if you want to stay healthy

The North Coast Public Health Unit is urging Mid North Coast residents and visitors to avoid unnecessary contact with floodwater. As a result of the heavy rain experienced over the long weekend, some sewerage systems and septic tanks in towns and villages across the mid north coast have overflowed. This has meant that some of the flood affected water will contain diluted sewage. Senior Environmental Health Officer Kerryn Lawrence said people should not swim or play in floodwater because of the dangers of contacting diluted sewage, bacteria or chemicals that may be present. “It is best to avoid all unnecessary contact with mud and floodwater and to keep children out of flood affected areas,” Ms Lawrence said.“To avoid illness, it is important to wash hands with soap and clean water after participating in any flood clean-up activities, and before eating or handling food. “First aid should be applied immediately to any scratches or cuts to reduce chances of infection and children should be kept away from floodwater, mud or flood-affected areas,” said Ms Lawrence. “Swimming in contaminated water may cause illness, including ear infections, eye infections, fever and diarrhoea” said Ms Lawrence. Residents and visitors are advised to avoid swimming in the ocean, rivers, creeks and lagoons for at least three days after the rain has stopped. Also avoid swimming if there are signs of pollution such as discoloured water, oil or scum on the water, and litter or other debris floating in the water or on the tide line. Ms Lawrence said that if people have health concerns they should first seek advice from their General Practitioner.

 Hints for staying healthy during floods and while cleaning up:

Wear gloves and suitable foot wear when removing mud or debris from homes or yards.

Yards can be raked to remove debris and if necessary, hosed down.

Don’t try to check electrical appliances and other equipment yourself, seek professional help.

Have septic tanks or pipes professionally inspected or serviced if you suspect damage.

Avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, use roll-on insect repellent on exposed skin and apply every few hours.

To avoid creating mosquito breeding sites in your yard by emptying out pot plant bases and removing all water-holding rubbish.

When cleaning up, consider your personal health, drink plenty of clear fluids, do not wait until you are thirsty. Take breaks when you can, watch out for heat stress.

Further information on safety after floods can be found at:

http://mnclhd.health.nsw.gov.au/about/north-coast-public-health/staying-healthy-during-floods/

Essential working at restoring power

Essential Energy has today restored power to around 13,000 customers across the North Coast, however 7,000 customers are expected to remain without power overnight. Field crews have moved into areas hit by gale force winds  and torrential rain over the past four days, repairing and replacing damaged poles, powerlines and associated equipment from the Macleay Valley to the Queensland border. As the weather eased this afternoon, helicopters were used to patrol areas made inaccessible by floodwaters. These areas included around Tomewin, Limpinwood and Dungay in the Tweed Valley; inland from Byron Bay including Wilsons Creek, Huonbrook, Goonengerry and Main Arm; and further south in the Clarence Valley. Acting regional general manager North Coast, Daniel Bylsma said more than 110 Essential Energy reinforcements from across New South Wales were travelling to the region to lend a hand. Some out-of-area crews arrived today and immediately joined local workers, while others will drive or fly in tomorrow from as far away as Queanbeyan, Goulburn, Narromine and Moruya. “Our main efforts are focussed on progressively restoring power for as many customers as quickly and safely as possible, but it may be several days before all supply is restored to outlying areas and individual residences,” Daniel said. “We’re using the helicopters to identify faults in some inaccessible areas and also to drop our crews in to carry out repairs where it is safe for them to do so.I’d like to assure our customers that we’re doing everything possible to restore supply and that we do appreciate their patience and understanding.” Areas likely to be without supply overnight include, west of Uki, Dungay, Limpinwood, Tomewin, Upper Wilsons Creek, Huonbrook.

UPDATE 6.06pm

The following is the latest on road closures across the state as loved ones and travellers look to make their back to Port Macquarie ...

The Summerland Way is now open in both directions 11km south of Kyogle (north of Casino) in the State's North after being closed earlier due to flooding. But The Summerland Way is only open to emergency vehicles between Casino and Grafton, and is closed in both directions two kilometres south of the Queensland border at Dairy Flat due to a landslide. The Golden Highway is also now open at Singleton after being closed earlier today, and all diversions have been lifted.

The following roads also remain closed in both directions due to flooding:

In the State's North:

The Pacific Highway between Grafton and Ballina

The Gwydir Highway about 70km west of Grafton at Jackadgery due to a landslip

Armidale Road between Ebor and Nymboida

Bangalow Road between Bexhill and Lagoon Grass

Tweed Valley Way in Murwillumbah

There is also heavy traffic on the Pacific Highway at Chinderah near Tweed Heads, with northbound motorists queued for around 2.6 kilometres which is adding 10 minutes to travel time. Southbound motorists are queued for around one kilometre, which is added five minutes to travel time.

The Ulmarra and Lawrence ferries remain out of service.

In the State's North West:

The Newell Highway at Goondiwindi

The Gwydir Highway between east of Moree and Pallamallawa

In the Illawarra:

The Illawarra Highway at Albion Park between the Princes Highway and Tongarra Road

Fern Street at Gerringong between the Princes Highway and Belinda Street

Motorists are still advised to avoid all non essential travel and exercise caution when driving.

For the latest traffic information, visit www.livetraffic.com or call 132 701.

UPDATE 5:36pm

Melissa Pretorius reports...

TREACHEROUS surf continues to pound the coast in the wake of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald.

The intense low pressure system has created some of the largest swell to have hit Port Macquarie for years.

"We haven't seen a swell this big for a number of years," said senior lifeguard Grant Hudson.

"Some of the sets are rolling in around the four metre mark and it's breaking a long way out to sea."

Beaches could remain closed for the next few days depending on the size of the swell and water conditions, he said.

At this stage, the Bureau of Meteorology has predicted a strong easterly swell of up to four metres breaking dangerously close inshore, slowly dropping to two metres on Friday.

"Town Beach could remain closed for a few more days, but lifeguards are monitoring the conditions on a daily basis."

"Just because the sun's out, doesn't meant the beaches will be open."

Debris, fallen trees and the run-off caused by the heavy rain and rising water could also be polluting local beaches.

Beach goers should take care near the edge of the water, where surging waves could sweep the unprepared out to sea.

"When those surges come up the beach the water has to go somewhere, and there is no swimming against those rips."

UPDATE 4.24pm

Lisa Tisdell reports...

POWER was interrupted at Bonny Hills when five spans of powerlines were brought down. Repairs were carried out during the day. Essential Energy crews were also repairing storm damage at Valla Road, Missabotti, Eungai and Kundabung on the Mid-North Coast. 

Poor conditions prevented site access at Taylors Arm, where several customers will remain without power overnight. Likewise at Darkwood Road, Thora, where Essential Energy workers will wait for floodwaters to drop before they can carry out repairs and restore power for more than 100 customers.

UPDATE 2.35pm

Lisa Tisdell reports...

Essential Energy field crews are continuing to restore power across the region today. In the Clarence Valley, helicopters will be used this afternoon to convey powerline workers into inaccessible areas to carry out network repairs. 

Essential Energy acting regional general manager north coast Daniel Bylsma said while the extent of damage to the network was not yet known, he was hopeful power would be restored today. He said repairs were also underway on a high voltage powerline out of Yamba in the Durrington Lane area. About 60 customers there should have their power restored later this afternoon.

"In many instances, strong winds have brought trees down across powerlines or flung vegetation and other debris into the lines, damaging them," Mr Bylsma said. "The conditions are poor and access is a problem due to floodwaters, which aren't expected to peak in the lower Clarence until tonight."

Essential Energy has brought additional personnel to assist local crews, predominantly around Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay and Tweed Heads.Across the region, many individual service lines to residences have been damaged in the wild weather.

UPDATE 1.13pm

Chris Ward reports ...

THE clouds have broken and Port Macquarie is once again surrounded by sunshine. Evidence of the wild weather event is still lingering with a swollen, chocolate coloured Hastings River. The roads have received a pummeling over the three days particularly Pacific Drive where Port Macquarie-Hastings Council road crews were in the middle of rejuvenation works when the rain began. The beaches are inundated with foam and debris from the fast moving river. Port Macquarie dodged a bullet with many other coastal towns hit much harder. Coffs Harbour alone received more than double the 144.4 millimetres of rain that Port Macquarie received in the 24 hour period until 9am today. With the worst of the weather well and truly behind us weather experts from the Bureau of Meteorology said there's still a possibility of more rain. The forecast for the rest of the day revealed the chance of a thunderstorm. Tomorrow will see a high of 27 degrees with a shower or two throughout the day and the possibility of another thunderstorm late in the afternoon. Dangerous surf conditions are set to hang around until at least tomorrow. Thursday will be partly cloudy with a top of 29 degrees followed by a high of 31 degrees on Friday with partly cloudy conditions throughout the day.

UPDATE 12.10pm

Brie Snare reports on Lord Howe and other flights

TOURISTS holidaying on Lord Howe Island are lapping up the fact flights in and out have been cancelled due to weather on the mainland. The Lord Howe Island Tourism Association said numbers were at capacity, with 400 guests enjoying the laid-back lifestyle. QantasLink's usual two flights from Port Macquarie to and from the island had to be cancelled each day since Saturday. This morning, the airline added a flight to manage the backlog but both had to be cancelled due to weather. Two flights are scheduled this afternoon and a spokeswoman said assessments of safety would be made in relation to whether flights could run.   While it was unclear exactly how many tourists were due to wrap up their down time, island representatives assured not one was complaining. Tourism manager Lauren Douglass said the sun had been shining on the lagoon side of Lord Howe, sand castle building competitions among the many activities enjoyed. "People are pleased they've been able to stay a few more days rather than going back to work," Ms Douglass said. Wind has picked up the other side but no rain has fallen on the island yet. The SES has had no call-outs and the Island Trader made its scheduled journey without a hiccup on Saturday. Meanwhile, QantasLink flights to Sydney this morning were delayed by up to an hour, which is expected to push other flights back. Virgin Australia's flight from Sydney arrived on time this morning at 10am but the 10.10am departure to Brisbane was delayed by 45 minutes. The 12.40pm flight to Sydney is operating and the 5.40pm flight is listed as delayed by about half an hour. Both airlines advised travelers to check flight statuses before heading to the airport.

UPDATE 11.42am

Lisa Tisdell reports that just over 250 customers are without power at Kundabung north of Port Macquarie. Essential Energy workers are on the scene in an effort to find the fault. Up to 20,000 customers from Kundabung to the state's north have lost electricity as a result of wild weather.

Vickii Byram reports ...

8.2mm of rain has fallen at the airport since 9am.

Mt Seaview has been hammered since Saturday at 3pm with 393mm recorded up until 9am this morning.

On the rising water levels, Vickii reports Hastings River (at 9.45am) the river height at Kindee Bridge was 3.11m and falling with minor flooding.

At the same time the river was 2.68m and steady at Wauchope with minor flooding, and at 10am

it was 1.14m at Settlement Point and steady just below minor flood level.

Meanwhile the Camden Haven River at Logans Crossing was measured at 5.02m and falling at

9.52am, and at Laurieton last report it was 1.2m.

Overnight wind gusts were recorded at Port Macquarie airport up to 69km/h (or 37 knots, which is considered gale force) between 1am and 2am. 

These remained blustery until 7am this morning with gusts from 39km/h up to 57km/h. Since then some gusts have been up to 50km/hbut have gradually abated to 17km/h with some up to 24km/h up until 11am.

UPDATE 11.30am

The Port News just received a call from Lake Cathie resident Ted Jackson who has lived in the area for 12 years. He has a "professional rain gauge" he used to have on his farm and took a measurement from it this morning. In the 24 hours from 9am Monday to 9am this morning there was 280mm of rain in the gauge at his home behind the medical centre on Ocean Drive. Mr Jackson said he had "never seen anything like it" in the 12 years he has lived there.

Chris Ward reports that water is starting to lap over the road at Fernbank Creek and also at Hastings River Drive (near the Big Oyster). Residents at Dunbogan are also starting to witness water encroaching onto their land as the tide rises. The Camden Haven River at Laurieton has hit 1.2m. 

UPDATE 10.21am

AFTER A quick inspection of the major trouble spots this morning, photographer Nigel McNeil reports that Port Macquarie will have a lot of cleaning up to do.

“The seas have risen considerably and they are increasing with the tide coming in,” Nigel said.

“There’s water and debris everywhere but no major flooding – we’ll keep an eye on things around Settlement and low lying parts of Hibbard, Fernbank Creek and North Shore.”

“If you are looking for some odd, quirky photos, the foam at Oxley Beach is a sight and there’s also a little bit at Flynn’s.

“It can make for great shots but everybody needs to be careful. There’s a lot of water on the road and the roadworks at Pacific Drive are a mess.”

WEATHER FORECAST FOR NEXT 7 DAYS ... Vickii Byram reports

UNFORTUNATELY the galoshes will need to be kept handy as the Bureau of Metrology predicts we will not see the sun until Sunday before showers return again next Monday.

Forecast for the rest of today

Predicted temperature maximum is 29 degrees with the chance of a thunderstorm this afternoon or evening. It is currently cloudy and there will be a shower or two during the day. Northeasterly winds are gusting up to 40 km/h this morning then turning northerly to 30 km/h this afternoon. Dangerous surf conditions hazardous for coastal activities such as swimming, surfing and rock fishing, are expected. There is a UV Alert from 8:50 am to 5:10 pm with the UV Index predicted to reach 13 [Extreme]

Wednesday, January 30

Tomorrow’s maximum is predicted to be 27 degrees after an overnight minimum of 20. At this stage the Bureau of Metrology is predicts a carbon copy of today’s weather. The main difference is the winds which will be abating. They will be northwesterly up to 20 km/h shifting southerly to 35 km/h in the late morning then decreasing to 25 km/h in the evening.

Thursday, January 31

Maximum temperature is predicted to be 29 degrees after an overnight minimum of 20. It is predicted to be partly cloudy with a shower or two and light winds becoming  north to northeasterly 15 to 20 km/h during the evening.

Friday, February 1

Warmer conditions are predicted for Friday with a maximum of 31 degrees.

Again the forecast is partly cloudy, a shower or two, winds northwest to northeasterly 15 to 25 km/h tending west to southwesterly 15 to 20 km/h during the evening.

Saturday, February 2

After an overnight minimum of 18 degrees the maximum is predicted to reach 28 degrees.

Partly cloudy. A possible shower. Winds south to southwesterly 25 to 35 km/h.

Sunday, February 3

Overnight minimum of 16 with a maximum of 27 degrees.

Mostly sunny. Winds south to southwesterly and light, increasing to 30 to 35 km/h during the day.

Monday, February 4 

Maximum of 27 degrees, partly cloudy with a possible shower and winds from the south west at

25 to 30 km/h tending southerly 25 to 35 km/h during the morning.

UPDATE: TUESDAY 8.30am

FLOOD SUMMARY as of 8.30am this morning

PORT Macquarie looks set to face its biggest challenges as the high tide kicks in around 11am this morning after another night of steady rain.

Hastings River has a minor flood warning issued it reached 2.8m at Wauchope last night and minor flooding at Kindee Bridge

Settlement Point it is predicted to peak at 1.4m at 11am this morning and low lying parts of Hibbard Settlement Point Fernbank Creek and North Shore may experience some inundation

Ferry Service between Port and North shore may experience some disruption.

Carabvan parks in Hibbard Drive area are advised to monitor and prepare for possible inundations as we prepare for high tide around 11am.

Pacific Highway closed the major routes between Qld and NSW all closed.

Motorists in Coffs and Ballina trying to return should remain.

VIDEO: Ex-Camden Haven High School student Georgia Windred, sent us in a small stream of video with the following message: "Missing the Camden Haven, hope you guys don't get too much of the rain we've had here in Coffs, attached is a small video of (believe it or not) my backyard today." Regards, Georgia. 

Local rainfall figures include:

Port Macquarie has had 132mm since 9pm, on top of 108mm yesterday and 71 mm on Sunday.

Comboyne has had 146mm since 9pm, on top of 134mm yesterday and 115mm on Sunday

In other regional news, Grafton floodwaters will peak around 8m at 12midday this morning with major flooding expected.

The Macleay River  will peak near 3.3m with major flooding around midnight.

UPDATE 10pm

The Bureau of Meteorology rain map shows the following rainfall figures for the past 24 hours:

Port Macquarie- 108mm

Wauchope- 74mm

Mt Seaview- 181mm

Comboyne- 134mm

Lake Cathie- 37mm

Laurieton- 48mm

Kempsey- 83mm

Crescent Head- 82mm

Taree- 61mm

UPDATE: 8.15pm

Around 2,000 customers on the Mid North Coast have lost power as Essential Energy field crews are working to restore power through the evening.

Essential Energy acting regional general manager North Coast, Daniel Bylsma said crews have worked tirelessly to restore supply however continuing weather conditions are hampering efforts. 

“Crews are working as quickly as safety will allow them to get the power back on for customers, however rising flood levels, fallen trees, debris, boggy conditions and strong winds are preventing access to a number of areas,” Daniel said. 

When flooding has impacted the power network in the past and ground access has been an issue, Essential Energy has called on helicopters and boats to move field crews and equipment in a bid to establish supply again. 

“We are currently investigating all possible options to get the power back on while ensuring the safety of our crews and the public. 

“Power will be restored progressively over the coming days due to the damage to the network - this means that some customers may be without power for two or three days.” 

Mid North Coast customers in parts of Bellingen, Arakoon, Stuart’s Point, Scott’s Head and Nambucca Heads are also without supply. 

Customers are reminded to keep safety a focus throughout this weather and if they see fallen powerlines to stay at least eight metres away and call Essential Energy on 13 20 80.

UPDATE: 7.17pm

Motorists are advised to delay all travel between the Queensland border and NSW as the Pacific Highway and Bruxner Highway are expected to close later tonight. Due to The Summerland Way already being closed, there is no way through to the Queensland border from NSW. The Pacific Highway is expected to close between Grafton and Iluka due to the rising Clarence River. Additionally, the Bruxner Highway is expected to close at South Lismore later tonight due to the rising Wilsons River. At present the following roads are already closed as a result of flooding:

The Gwydir Highway is closed at Gibraltar Ranges due to fallen trees and a landslip.

Bangalow Road is closed between Bangalow and Lismore. The road is closed at Binna Burra and south of Bexhill.

Armidale Road is closed in Ebor through to Nymbodia.

The Bruxner Highway is closed 70km west of Tenterfield.

Tweed Valley Way is closed in both directions in the Murwillimbah area.

The Pacific Highway is closed near Spring Street in South Grafton. There is a diversion via Clarenza, which is suitable for light vehicles and semi-trailers and B-Doubles under 19m and 50 tonnes.

The Newell Highway is closed between Boggabilla and Moree (and there is no access to the Newell Highway from Queensland). Heavy vehicles are no longer getting through.

The Gwydir Highway is closed between west of Moree and Pallamallawa.

The Summerland Way is closed 10km south of Casino.

There is also localised flooding in parts of Sydney and Newcastle, so motorists are advised to exercise extreme caution.

In Sydney, the Wakehurst Parkway is closed in both directions in Oxford Falls, and Stony Creek Road is closed at the Causeway in Shanes Park.

In Newcastle, Industrial Drive is closed northbound at Elizabeth Drive.

Motorists are advised to delay all non-essential travel if possible due to the extreme weather conditions currently being experienced.

For the latest traffic information, visit www.livetraffic.com or call 132 701.

UPDATE: 7pm

Vickii Byram monitors the predicted river heights and flows courtesy of the Bureau of Meteorology as the rain continues to tumble: :

Hastings River at Kindee Bridge: 4.5 metres around 3am tomorrow morning with minor flooding.

Hastings River at Wauchope: 2.5 metres around 9am tomorrow morning with minor flooding.

Settlement Point: 1.4 metres around 9am tomorrow morning with minor flooding.

Latest river heights: 

Hastings River at Kindee Bridge, 2.44m and rising as at 1.45pm Monday.

Hastings River at Wauchope, 1.1m and falling at 2:45pm Monday

Wilson River at Telegraph Point, 0.96m and steady   at 3pm Monday

Hastings River at Settlement Point, 0.32m and falling as at 3pm Monday

A reminder for those wishing to monitor their situations deep into the night:

For latest rainfall and river level information see www.bom.gov.au/nsw/flood/

FloodSafe advice is available at www.ses.nsw.gov.au

For emergency assistance call the SES on telephone number 132 500.

For the latest weather forecast see www.bom.gov.au/nsw/forecasts/

For life threatening emergencies, call 000 immediately.

UPDATE: 6.31pm

Chris Ward reports ...

DESPITE the torrential downpour Port Macquarie SES crews remain optimistic about the next 12 hours. A spokesman from the emergency service said he expects to wrap up operations at about 9pm tonight. “We’ve had a crew out working all day,” he said. “We hope to be able to knock the few outstanding jobs over soon.” He said he expects there to be little change in the weather and conditions overnight which may lead to minor flooding in low lying areas. The SES crew have already assisted at about 20 jobs so far today nearly matching yesterday's efforts of 26. Most jobs have been to remove fallen trees, leaking rooves and some sandbagging. Only three roads in the Port Macquarie area have been closed due to flooding including Milton Circuit, Plomer Road and Maria River Road on the North Shore.

UPDATE: 5.47pm

Heaven forbid ... the excess of water running through the streets here at Milton Circuit in Port Macquarie have forced the closure of our street - here's hoping the Port News, Express and Happenings get out to you all on Wednesday.

UPDATE: 5.12pm

Traffic: Stuart Carless reports …

Workers are clearing a tree which earlier closed the Pacific Highway at Telegraph Point, north of Port Macquarie. Traffic is affected in both directions. A tree has also fallen across the highway at Sancrox, one kilometre north of the Oxley Highway. Northbound traffic is affected. To the south, a two car accident is causing traffic delays on the Princes Highway at Wang Wauk, south of Nabiac. The accident is affecting south bound traffic. The Pacific Highway remains closed at South Grafton because of flooding. Elsewhere in the state, the Gwydir Highway is closed between New England and the North Coast. The Newell Highway is closed at the Queensland border near Bogabilla. Some heavy vehicles can get through but it is closed to all light vehicles heading to Queensland. The Bruxner Highway is closed 70km west of Tenterfield.

UPDATE: 4.14pm

Electricity interruptions … Gordon Wiegold reports

Rachel Hussell from Essential Energy says 20,000 users are without power between the Mid North Coast and the Tweed. Due to dangerous conditions, some of these power outages are expected to remain overnight as technicians deal with fallen power lines and debris/vegetation getting caught in them as well. Extra crews have come in to assist but boggy ground and flooding is making repairs difficult.  

Traffic … Stuart Carless reports:

Both lanes of the Pacific Highway have been closed near Kempsey due to a fallen tree. Emergency services are working to clear the tree and open at least one lane as soon as possible. The Pacific Highway remains closed at South Grafton because flooding. Elsewhere in the state, the Gwydir Highway is closed between New England and the North Coast. The Newell Highway is closed at the Queensland border near Bogabilla. Some heavy vehicles can get through but it is closed to all light vehicles heading to Queensland. The Bruxner Highway is closed 70km west of Tenterfield. Heavy holiday traffic has eased in Bulahdelah and Hexham. The situation is changing quickly so motorists are advised to avoid travelling. For the latest traffic information, visit www.livetraffic.com or call 132 701.

Motorists are advised to delay travel if possible due to the extreme weather conditions currently being experienced.

* The Gwydir Highway is closed at Gibraltar Ranges due to fallen trees and a landslip. 

* Bangalow Road is closed between Bangalow and Lismore. The road is closed at Binna Burra and south of Bexhill. 

* Armidale Road is closed in Ebor through to Nymbodia. 

* The Bruxner Highway is closed 70km west of Tenterfield. 

* Tweed Valley Way is closed in both directions in the Murwillimbah area 

* The Pacific Highway is closed near Spring Street in South Grafton. There is a diversion via Clarenza, which is suitable for light vehicles and semi-trailers and B- Doubles under 19m and 50 tonnes. 

* The Newell Highway is closed 90km north of Moree to Boggabilla (and there is no access to the Newell Highway from Queensland). However, heavy vehicles are getting through. 

* The Gwydir Highway is closed 15km east of Moree. 

* The Summerland Way is closed 10km south of Casino. 

* The Bruxner Highway has reopened at Holland Street in Goonellabah after wires were down earlier.

UPDATE 2.57pm

Heavy holiday traffic continues south of Port Macquarie with 4km queues in the southbound lane at Bulahdelah. To the north, the Pacific Highway has reopened at Corindi Beach but drivers are encouraged to exercise extreme caution due to floodwaters.The highway remains closed in both directions at South Grafton.

MEANWHILE, Police have set up a Public Information and Inquiry Centre to support the current severe weather response in NSW. It is currently open and members of the public can contact the Public Information and Inquiry Centre (PIIC) on 1800 227 228, regarding information on the flood and storm operation across NSW.  Additional information in relation to the flood and severe weather warnings can be viewed on www.emergency.nsw.gov.au. It should be noted that this inquiry hotline does not replace any emergency hotlines. For emergency flood calls please call the State Emergency Service on 132 500.

UPDATE 2.28pm

The rain continues to tumble with some highways closing around the state and water levels beginning to rise at Kempsey with reports at George’s Creek (Kempsey) it is sitting at 4.2m (a minor flood level would occur when it hits 6m). Winds are picking up in the Port Macquarie region with motorists giving anecdotal feedback about increasingly buffeting conditions making driving treacherous.  

On traffic issues … Stuart Carless reports

No traffic disruptions in the Port Macquarie region however there is heavy holiday traffic on the Pacific Highway to the south at Buladelah and Hexham some flooding on the Pacific Highway to the north at Corindi Beach and South Grafton. The highway is currently closed in both directions at the two locations and motorists are being urged to exercise extreme caution.

On the rising floodwaters … Vickii Byram reports

The Hastings River at Kindee Bridge (55km west of Port Macquarie) was at 2.37m and holding steady at 11.45am.

At Wauchope the river had risen from .69m at 8.45am to 1.22m at 12.45pm but was falling.

At Settlement Point  the river had risen from 0.75m at 9am to .84m but was falling as at 12pm.

On electricity interruptions … Lisa Tisdell reports

Essential Energy advises there are no power disruptions in the Hastings.

On local flights from Port Macquarie airport … Brie Snare files this update from her earlier information

VIRGIN Australia flights to and from our town have been cancelled due to weather conditions today.

QantasLink's 6.30am flight to Sydney this morning arrived on time, but the 9.40am flight was delayed by more than an hour and the 1.30pm flight delayed by up to half an hour. 

Cyclone Oswald is moving down the east coast from Queensland, grounding planes among its many disastrous effects.

Airline spokeman Luke O'Donnell said Virgin had kept planes on the ground mainly because of strong crosswinds of above 74km/h over the last few days.

Mr O'Donnell said passengers would not be out of pocket if booked on cancelled flights up to Wednesday, as part of a commercial policy relating to the cyclone.

He said Virgin was striving to send notification of cancelled or delayed flights as early as possible via its website, facebook and Twitter accounts.

"People need to check the status of their flights before they leave home to the airport," Mr O'Donnell said.

The 10.10am flight to Brisbane, 12.40pm and 5.40pm flights to Sydney today have been cancelled.

Yesterday, at least two afternoon flights were cancelled.

A QantasLink spokeswoman said the airline's 3.20pm flight was on time at this stage and no flights were expected to be cancelled today.

UPDATE: 1.30pm

Chris Ward reports …

PORT Macquarie is a long way from being out of the woods just yet with winds and flash-flooding posing the major dangers this afternoon.

Weather experts from the Bureau of Meteorology say things are going to get worse before they get better.

They have predicted winds will reach damaging and possibly destructive speeds.

Abnormally high tides which may cause sea water flooding of low-lying areas and very heavy surf which may lead to localised damage and coastal erosion are also forecast for the Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast.

The dangerous conditions are expected to continue until at least tomorrow morning.

The area's emergency services have been kept busy with a number of wild weather related call outs.

A yacht moored in the Hastings River came free of its holding in the extreme weather earlier today.

The 28 foot vessel Titiana broke free and ended up stranded on the rocks at the rear of Westport Bowling Club.

Marine Rescue activated and pulled the boat away from the shore and to safety. 

Port Macquarie SES were called upon 26 times yesterday and have been receiving a steady amount of calls today.

One of those was at Tarcey Kirkman's home on Ocean Ridge Terrace.

She said water was seeping through light fittings in the bathroom and bedroom wall.

She spoke highly of the SES crew members who turned up to help out.

"They were great I called them this morning and they got here so quick," she said.

"They've done a great job, I was worried about just how much water was starting to pool inside."

The crew members said they applied plastic sheeting the roof along with some sandbags to help stop the leak.

12.50pm: Port Macquarie Airport has received 19.8mm of rain since 9am this morning.

Current temperature is 21.8 degrees with releative humidity of 94 per cent.

Winds are from the north east at 32 km/h with gusts up to 48km/h.

With more than 130mm falling in the 36 hours up to 9am and the rain intensity increasing since 6 this morning the predicted river height at Kindee Bridge (55km west of Port Macquarie) will exceed minor flood level (3.0 metres) this afternoon.

Wauchope (.69m at 8.45am and rising) should remain below minor flood level at this stage as should Settlement Point (0.75m and rising at 9am).

Louise Dix, with Joe, Roland and Nick Bullock (and dog Charlie) at the viewing platform at Lighthouse Beach.

12,30PM: VIRGIN Australia flights to and from our town have been cancelled due to weather conditions today.

Cyclone Oswald is moving down the east coast from Queensland, grounding planes among its many disastrous effects.

Airline spokeman Luke O'Donnell said Virgin had kept planes on the ground mainly because of strong crosswinds of above 74km/h over the last few days.

Mr O'Donnell said passengers would not be out of pocket if booked on cancelled flights up to Wednesday, as part of a commercial policy relating to the cyclone

.He said Virgin was striving to send notification of cancelled or delayed flights as early as possible via its website, facebook and Twitter accounts."People need to check the status of their flights before they leave home to the airport," Mr O'Donnell said.

The 10.10am flight to Brisbane, 12.40pm and 5.40pm flights to Sydney today have been cancelled.Yesterday, at least two afternoon flights were cancelled.

QantasLink's 6.30am flight to Sydney this morning arrived on time, but the 9.40am flight was delayed by more than an hour.

 At 12.30pm this afternoon, the airline's 1.30pm and 3.20pm flights to Sydney were listed as running on time. QantasLink was unavailable for comment today.

EARLIER: Ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald currently located over southern Queensland is moving slowly southwards. It is forecast to move into northern NSW later this morning then move rapidly south-southeastwards. This system has produced widespread persistent rain over northeastern NSW over the last couple of days. The rain, along with the wind, will increase in intensity today as the low approaches before gradually easing in its wake.

Very heavy rain which may lead to flash flooding is falling in the Northern Rivers, Northern Tablelands and the Mid North Coast forecast districts. The heavy rain is forecast to extend into the Hunter, Metropolitan, Central Tablelands and Illawarra forecast districts during the day.

Destructive winds with peak gusts of 140 km/h are forecast over parts of the Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast today. Damaging winds around 60 km/h with peak gusts of 100 km/h are forecast for the Northern Tablelands this morning, extending to coastal parts of the Hunter this afternoon, then the Metropolitan and Illawarra this evening and overnight. The wind is expected to gradually ease in the Northern Rivers and Northern Tablelands forecast districts this afternoon and evening.

Abnormally high tides which may cause sea water flooding of low lying areas and very heavy surf which may lead to localised damage and coastal erosion are forecast for the Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast this morning, the Hunter and Metropolitan forecast districts later today and the Illawarra overnight. Beach conditions in these areas will be dangerous and people should stay well away from the surf and surf exposed areas.

Since 9am Sunday 488 mm has been recorded at Hopkins Creek (near Mullumbimby), 200 mm in Coffs Harbour and 160 mm in Comboyne. Flood warnings have been issued for several rivers in eastern NSW. Refer to www.bom.gov.au/nsw/warnings/ for the latest flood warning information.

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