Canberra flooded as deluge hits and forces road closures

EMERGENCY services are out in force across Canberra as heavy rains cause flash flooding and closed many roads.

The SES has received close to 200 calls for help since a heavy dump of rain about 8.30am on Sunday and another fall around lunch time.

SES chief officer Georgeina Whelan says there are some arterial roads closed, including around the major thoroughfare of Northbourne Avenue.

Many of the calls for help came from people finding their front and backyards flooded and their driveways or garages cut off, she said.

“The strong message that we’re sending out to the community is … if it’s flooded, forget it,” she told ABC TV.

media_cameraFlooding hits northern Canberra in Turner after massive downpour in Picture: Christine Vanden Byllaardt

“We’re asking people to remain in their homes and only travel if absolutely necessary, and if it is flooded, stop their vehicle and don’t proceed.” Anyone trapped in floodwaters should call triple-0.

Nearly 70mm of rain has fallen on Canberra since Saturday evening, the bulk of it in the two big storms on Sunday.

60mm of rain were recorded in an hour at Sullivan’s Creek, just off Lake Burley Griffin, according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

media_cameraFlooding in the Turner/O’Connor area today in Canberra. Picture: Christine Vanden Byllaardt

In three hours before 10.45am AEDT, the Bureau recorded 66.2mm at Woolshed Creek, 43mm at Oaks Estate and 39.2mm at the boat harbour on Lake Burley Griffin.

At 3.58pm AEDT today, the Bureau issued a severe thunderstorm warning saying they were likely to produce heavy rainfall that may lead to flash flooding in Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Tamworth and Moree.

While not in Canberra, the ACT Emergency Services Agency said storm water levels would rise as more rain was expected.

“Avoid entering storm waters and don’t allow children to play in, or near storm waters. Please avoid driving on unsealed roads,” it said in a statement.

“Do not drive into flood waters. If driving becomes too difficult pull over safely to the side of the road and wait until conditions improve.

“The public are also advise to keep clear of waterways, which are likely to experience flash flooding in current conditions. When flooded waterways can become unpredictable and dangerous.”

Photos on social media show many roads in the city’s northern suburbs flooded and stormwater drains overflowing.

The city’s north has been hit hard, with apartments and homes flooded in O’Connor.

Police have advised Majura Parkway and Oaks Estate crossing are closed to traffic.

The Dickson Library has also closed due to flooding and bus routes have been diverted.

Ms Whelan said more rain was expected on Sunday afternoon and it may take some time for the storm waters to subside, possibly affecting people’s morning commutes on Monday.

“Our road traffic services are working very hard to clear the debris from the roads as the stormwater subsides, but there may be some delays in accessing their work locations tomorrow,” she said.

“We ask people to when they do drive, to drive safely and be mindful of the other traffic around the area.”

The State Emergency Service advises that people should:

* Keep clear of creeks and storm drains.

* Don’t walk, ride your bike or drive through flood water.

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

* Unplug computers and appliances.

* Avoid using the phone during the storm.

* Stay indoors away from windows, and keep children and pets indoors as well.

* For emergency help in floods and storms, ring the SES (NSW and ACT) on 132 500.