Residents told to evacuate, club closes

PHOTO GALLERY: The Hastings is hit hard          * Earlier today  

* Body of missing teen found                              * Wild weather shuts roads

HOMES in the Port Macquarie/Hastings area have been issued evacuation orders as the State Emergency Service prepares for major flooding of the Hastings river tonight.

People in the Settlement Point, North Shore and Hibbard areas have been told to head to the evacuation centre set up at Port Macquarie Panthers in Bay St.

The Westport Club, on the banks of the Hastings, ha, on the advice of the SES, been evacuated.

The club will be closed for the rest of Saturday and all day tomorrow

The SES has received hundreds of calls for help since yesterday afternoon

The majority of calls were for flood assistance and the others were to remove fallen trees but no flood rescues were reported.

SES deputy operations officer Alison Richards said the job for Port Macquarie/Hastings crews today was to prepare for major flooding expected to hit the area by 10pm.

She said the Hastings River was expected to peak at 1.9m at the Settlement Point Gage tonight.

Rural Fire Service crews had issued evacuation warnings to residents in the Port Macquarie north sure, on Settlement Point Rd, Fernbank Rd and Hibbard Drive.

An evacuation centre had opened this morning at the Port Macquarie Panthers club where Ms Richards said residents would be provided with information if they were unable to return to their homes.

She said until the flood peak, the situation was being monitored and she thanked around 15 community members who volunteered their time to fill sandbags at  SES headquarters this afternoon to prepare for the flood peak.

SES crews from Taree had also traveled the area to assist in call outs which Ms Richards said volunteers were trying to attend as "quickly as possible.

"By 10pm we can expect Settlement Point Rd to be underwater, Shoreline Dr over the North Shore to be under water and possibly parts of Hibbard Dr," Ms Richards said. "We have RFS teams door knocking issuing evacuation warnings to be prepared. It currently is just a warning so people can leave at short notice later in the day if needed."

Port Macquarie is one of the regions which may be affected along with Kempsey, Taree, Newcastle, Cessnock, Sydney, Wollongong, Katoomba and Bowral.

Meanwhile, a flood watch remains current for NSW coastal river valleys from the Manning to the Georges River Valleys.

Damaging winds with peak gusts of 100 km/h may affect the Mid North Coast south of Coffs Harbour, Hunter including the Central Coast area, Metropolitan, Illawarra and eastern parts of Central Tablelands.

Coastal areas and elevated locations are more likely to be affected.

Very heavy surf which may lead to localised damage and coastal erosion is forecast for the Mid North Coast, Hunter including the Central Coast area, Metropolitan and Illawarra forecast districts. 

Beach conditions in these areas will be dangerous and people should stay well away from the surf and surf exposed areas.

OBSERVATIONS SO FAR

At 10am, heavy rain was widespread on Mid North Coast near and south of Port Macquarie, much of the Hunter and also approaching the Metropolitan area. Numerous locations in the Mid North Coast forecast district received 100 to 150 mm overnight.

The highest 24 hour rainfall totals up to 10am Saturday were 415 mm at Mt Seaview.

Wind gusts this morning have reached 75 km/h at Norah Head, 83 km/h at North Head. Waver rider buoys offshore from Coffs Harbour and Crowdy Head have recorded waves between 10 to 12 metres this morning.

The State Emergency Service advises that people should:

* Move vehicles under cover or away from trees.

* Secure or put away loose items around your house, yard and balcony.

* Keep clear of fallen power lines.

Don't drive, ride or walk through flood water.

Keep clear of creeks and storm drains.

If you are trapped by flash flooding, seek refuge in the highest available place and ring 000 if you need rescue.

For emergency help in floods and storms, ring your local SES Unit on 132 500.

The next warning will be issued by 5pm today.

This warning is also available through TV and Radio broadcasts; the Bureau's website at www.bom.gov.au or call 1300 659 218.

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