The transit centre in Lismore after the levee broke.
The transit centre in Lismore after the levee broke. Hamish Broome

40,000 told in NSW: You must leave now

ROADS have been turned into rivers and flood levels around Brisbane are threatening to reach levels seen in the disastrous deluge of 2011.

More than 40,000 people have been urged to leave their homes as flooding in Cyclone Debbie's wake shuts down schools and cuts power in two states.

An emergency evacuation order has been extended to the northern NSW town of Murwillumbah, as nearly 100,000 people remain without power in southeast Queensland battling the unfolding flood crisis.

"Please do not delay - leave now," the NSW State Emergency Service urged residents in the town's east and central business district at 1am AEDT.

Flooding in Murwillumbah on March 30, 2017.
Flooding in Murwillumbah on March 30, 2017. Elizabeth Freeman

The Murwillumbah residents join a further 40,000 in northern NSW who the SES told "you must leave NOW", including 6000 in Lismore affected by major flooding along the Wilsons River.

Streets, bridges and shops were inundated and about 60 people spent the night at an evacuation centre in the town's Southern Cross University campus.


Meanwhile, an emergency alert has been issued for the Logan River in southeast Queensland which is experiencing widespread major flooding.

Record major flood levels have been reached along the Logan River at Beaudesert, which is sitting around 14m at 6am AEST Friday.

Areas west of Brisbane are being smashed by creek and river levels similar to those seen in the 2011 and 2013 fatal floods.

At the Bremer River near Ipswich the level is currently at 9.5m and rising, expected to reach the major flood level of 11m this morning and peak at 14m later this afternoon.

The centre of Lismore's CBD after the levee broke early this morning.
The centre of Lismore's CBD after the levee broke early this morning. Hamish Broome

At Amberley, the Bremer river is sitting at just over 8m which is similar to levels experienced in the 2011 floods.
Laidley Creek at Laidley has reached levels seen in the destructive 2013 floods.

The Brisbane River, however, whose flooding caused major damage in and around the CBD in past emergency situations is expected only to reach minor flood levels.

Bureau of Meteorology hydrologist David Berry said there were also concerns and major flood levels at the Bremer River near Ipswich and Laidley Creek between Ipswich and Toowoomba.

"A lot of records are being broken this morning," he told ABC radio.

River levels are expected to peak early afternoon before relief sets in.


More than 1000 schools in southeast Queensland will remain closed for a second day along with more than 1300 childcare facilities as the flood disaster keeps the region in virtual lockdown.

The state government took the extraordinary step to close down all schools between Agnes Waters and the NSW border at 7.20am AEST yesterday in what Queensland Police commissioner Ian Stewart admitted was "an unprecedented late call".

The decision - which affected about 300,000 students - caused mass confusion, as many parents and schools were unaware of the closure until well after classes had begun.

The Department of Education did send out text messages to all parents in southeast and central Queensland warning of the closure, but they were not sent until 10am, The Courier-Mail reported.

"We can't afford to have inexperienced young kids walking home from school at a time where there could be flash flooding," Mr Stewart said.

There was chaos in the state's southwest when almost 500mm of rain fell in 24 hours yesterday about the Gold Coast, which was also buffeted by destructive 125kh/h wind gusts.

As of Friday morning parts of the Tweed River Valley has received up to 740mm in the past 24 hours.

Parts of Brisbane received more than 200mm and wind gusts of 115km/h.

About 65,000 homes in the state's southwest went without power.

Real estate agent Katrina Beohm spent yesterday sandbagging and mopping up rainwater from her shopfront in East Lismore.

"We're just preparing for another incident through the night," she told AAP.

Flood evacuation orders are also in place in the northern NSW towns of Tweed Heads, Kingscliff, Fingal Head and Bilambil.

The SES conducted 37 rescues yesterday, mostly in Lismore.


Queensland Fire and Emergency Services commissioner Katarina Carroll warned on Friday morning: "Just because the rain has left we're not out of the situation yet."

"The waters will continue to rise this morning particularly around the Logan, Beaudesert area, the situation has not abated yet," she said.

"It will be peaking this morning later in the morning. You've got to keep safe and get to higher ground."

A severe weather warning remains in place for Queensland's southeast, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting destructive wind gusts "in excess of 125km/h" for the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Gold Coast Hinterland, and the Scenic Rim this morning.

The state is expected to be spared more heavy rain today.


Very heavy rain was expected to continue until early Friday in the NSW northern rivers and parts of the state's mid-north coast, Hunter, metropolitan and northern tablelands districts.

The bureau expects a further 100mm of rain to fall in the northern rivers' far northeast this morning, after more than 280mm fell in the area yesterday.

The centre of the ex-tropical cyclone was over the Gold Coast about midnight and is expected to retreat south-eastwards and offshore this afternoon.

News Corp Australia

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