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Storms threaten more flooding in NSW, Victoria

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Ongoing flooding in eastern Australia is expected to worsen as more rain is dumped into already saturated watersheds.

Steve Bernasconi, manager of the Bureau of Meteorology, for hazard preparedness and response, says severe thunderstorms and widespread rain are expected for Sunday.

“All of this adds to the existing long-term flooding that is happening in inland NSW,” he said.

Conditions are expected to ease around Tuesday with cooler, drier and calmer conditions.

The NSW SES has established a flood rescue center in Goulburn and is positioning personnel and vehicles in areas of concern including Albury, Young, Yass, Wagga Wagga and other towns along the Murray River system.

Residents in parts of South Albury were told to evacuate on Sunday morning.

The SES has put in place 89 warnings, including 12 emergency warnings to evacuate.

Commissioner Carlene York urged people to follow the SES warnings and evacuation orders.

“Some people still don’t listen, but unfortunately they make their decisions based on what they’ve seen in the past.”

“But we’ve seen time and again that the water is rising further than it may have been for many years and that’s because of the saturation of the land,” said Ms York.

The volunteer workforce is fatigued and personnel from other states have been requested, she said.

Emergency Relief Minister Steph Cooke says communities across the state are also fatigued, including Gunnedah, whom she visited on Saturday.

“That community has experienced eight floods in the last 12 months and it’s taking a toll on the people,” she said.

“There is no panacea for what we are experiencing right now and will likely continue to experience it for a while,” she said.

The SES will continue to supply food and medicine to flooded communities, which cover more than 40,000 square kilometers, about the size of Switzerland, Ms Cooke said.

Ms York said some communities will remain isolated for weeks, if not months.

In northeastern Victoria, heavy rainfall, triggered by storms, is expected to trigger flash flooding, with falls of up to 150mm in 24 hours in alpine areas.

Major and moderate flooding is occurring in northern Victoria and the rain, combined with an already saturated catchment area and dam leaks, is expected to lead to further and rapid increases.

The intense storms that hit the eastern states swept through South Australia on Saturday, with more than 423,000 lightning strikes and severe winds cutting down trees and damaging electricity infrastructure.

SA Power Networks estimated on Sunday that 100,000 customers had had their supplies hit and has engaged highway power crews to help with ongoing restoration work.