5 Mar 2012

Flood-hit NSW town airlifted to safety

10:39 pm on 5 March 2012

An entire town in southern New South Wales is being evacuated by air as more than 5000 residents across the Australian state abandon their homes to floodwaters.

The town of Urana, with a population of 400, is being evacuated on Monday night as rising floodwaters threatened essential supplies, sewerage and electricity.

The residents will be flown to Albury where they will be taken by bus to an evacuation centre, AAP reports.

Bigger towns in the Riverina are also under threat as the Murrumbidgee River swells to levels last seen in 1974.

A peak of 10.6 metres is expected to be reached in Wagga Wagga by Tuesday morning. More than 1000 residents have been evacuated from 740 properties in the city's north and east.

Some 4600 people throughout New South Wales have been told to leave their homes after more than a week of rain.

Flood warnings are currently in place for 15 river valleys across the state and the towns of Leeton, Narrandera and Griffith are isolated.

Meanwhile, the Weather Bureau has also issued a severe weather warning for heavy rain and flooding in south-east Queensland.

The ABC reports a low pressure system has moved over the coast near Fraser Island and heavy rain is falling between Bundaberg and the Sunshine Coast on Monday. More than 150mm is expected on the Sunshine Coast in 24 hours.

Other regions which may be affected include Hervey Bay, Gympie, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Ipswich.