26 May 2009

Australia floodwaters ease to reveal costly damage

7:43 am on 26 May 2009

Floodwaters on New South Wales' north coast are receding to reveal costly damage caused by days of heavy rain that killed one person, displaced thousands of others and now threaten the agricultural sector.

The Bureau of Meteorology maintains flood warnings for several rivers throughout the region, but residents say they have already noticed water levels easing despite continued drizzle.

Some 20,000 residents remain isolated in their homes or displaced due to floods, the State Emergency Service (SES) says.

One man died in the New South Wales floods, a 70-year-old whose body was found near his submerged car south of Coffs Harbour on Friday.

Police continue to investigate reports that a car was washed off a bridge over Kinchela Creek, near Kempsey, about 9pm on Sunday.

Authorities are reminding residents in flood-affected areas to take care when moving through the waters, with reports of substantial damage to several roads and bridges.

Clarence Valley mayor Richie Williamson says he is expecting the cost of the damage to be in the tens of millions of dollars.

In addition to repair costs, there are fears that some oyster farms and dairy farms in the region may not survive the floods.

The federal government on Monday announced financial assistance of $A1,000 for adults and $A400 for children in flood-affected New South Wales and Queensland.