NEWS AND ISSUES

MAY 2003

 

FIREFIGHTERS RESCUE MOTHER AND FIVE CHILDREN FROM BURNING HOUSE/NSWFB Media Release

At 3.29 am this morning, Tuesday 27 May 03, firefighters received several '000' calls from neighbours to a house fire in Christie St at Liverpool. NSWFB firefighters from Liverpool fire station were the first on scene and saw large amounts of smoke coming from several windows of the house and immediately called for back up. They were advised by concerned neighbours that the occupants were still trapped inside.

"Were very grateful to a neighbour who told us exactly how many people were inside." said Inspector Tom Cooper of the NSW Fire Brigades. "She was also able to explain to us the layout of the house."

Firefighters wearing breathing equipment smashed through a front window, immediately entered the burning house and began searching for those trapped inside. Firefighters used a thermal imaging camera which enabled them to see through the thick black smoke, and quickly located the mother and five children.

Liverpool firefighters first located a mother and two small children in the front bedroom and carried them through a window to safety. Firefighters from Busby next pulled two children from two separate bedrooms. Liverpool and Busby firefighters re-entered the house and rescued the fifth child from another bedroom.

The mother and several children had stopped breathing as a result of the thick smoke. They were resuscitated by firefighters and Police on scene using oxygen resuscitation equipment carried on all NSWFB vehicles. The mother and five children were all taken by NSW Ambulance Service to Liverpool hospital in varying conditions.

At this stage it appears as thought the fire may have started in the kitchen area and spread to an adjoining room. The fire was quickly extinguished by firefighters and a full investigation by NSWFB and Police into the cause of the fire will continue throughout this morning.
 

 

HUNDREDS CALL FOR SES HELP/Daily Telegraph                                            15th May 2003

EMERGENCY workers are continuing the massive mop up across Sydney amid hopes that heavy downpours will start to ease.

State Emergency Service (SES) communications manager Peter O'Neill today said the rain was not as heavy as earlier in the week and less damage to homes was being reported.

"At the moment it's not water entering houses, it's more roofing," he said.

"People are discovering cracked tiles or water getting under tiles or roofing iron.

"...Whereas it's still raining, certainly the weather forecast is easing and it's only occasional thunderstorms."
 

The SES spokesman said that from 2am (AEST) on Tuesday and throughout the day yesterday, the service had taken 1200 calls in the Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle area.

Volunteers had attended to 95 per cent of those calls, but another 70 calls had been received overnight, he said.

The worst-hit area remained the Sutherland Shire, in Sydney's south, with 300 calls since Tuesday, followed by Gosford with 100, then Rockdale, Marrickville, Hurstville, Wyong and Wollongong, each generating about 50 calls.

A Bureau of Meteorology spokesman this morning said moderate to heavy rain, with the chance of thunderstorms, would continue today and tomorrow in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, before clearing on Saturday.

The Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) said the situation was much better on the roads today, compared to the numerous road closures and hazards yesterday and Tuesday.

However, the Audley Weir, at the Royal National Park in Sydney's south, was still closed, along with the Illawarra Highway in both directions at Albion Park, on the NSW south coast.

Near Liverpool, Cambridge Avenue causeway, at Glenfield, was also shut.

A CityRail spokeswoman said the rain was causing a five to 10 minute delay across the rail network in Sydney today.

Yesterday, NSW Emergency Services Minister Tony Kelly said Sutherland Shire had so far been the only local government area to seek declaration as a natural disaster zone.

But he said more applications for help were expected once floodwaters receded and the extent of damage to public infrastructure was revealed.

A disaster declaration entitles businesses and individuals to special assistance grants and low interest loans.

Sutherland Shire Council would also be eligible for state government funding assistance to repair roads, bridges and other public infrastructure, Mr Kelly said.

 

RAIN FORCES PEOPLE TO WADE TO WORK/Daily Telegraph                    15th May 2003

ABOUT twice a year, Torres St at Kurnell becomes known as Torrent Street to locals.

Yesterday was one of those times as heavy rain continued across the city, causing havoc for motorists, homeowners and businesses.

In the wake of the deluge, which has seen the Sutherland Shire listed as a disaster area, residents of Torres St were busy pumping water from their yards yesterday.

The State Emergency Service called for extra pumping equipment as water lapped at residents' doorsteps. Outside number 93, Heather Bourne sloshed through shin-deep water as she battled to get from her car to her door.

Her cattle dog Herbie looked on, half submerged in the lake that was once her front lawn.

Across the road at number 118, Col Whetters and neighbour Shane Bovill were drinking beer and pumping water from their yards.

"You pump it out and hope that mother nature doesn't put it all back again," one of them said.

The rain is not expected to ease until Saturday, with thunderstorms forecast for the rest of the week.

Emergency Services Minister Tony Kelly declared Sutherland a disaster after visiting SES headquarters at Heathcote. "They're the ones who have copped most of the damage," Mr Kelly said.

Sutherland Mayor Phil Blight said the impact of rain this week had been severe.

"We can now get State Government funding to help clean up," Cr Blight said.

"It's going to make it easier for many people."

The worst hit suburbs include Kurnell, Caringbah, Taren Point and Miranda. Homes and businesses were damaged by flash flooding in Taren Point Rd and Box Rd at Caringbah, Torres St at Kurnell and Parraweena Rd at Miranda.

State Emergency Service volunteers have responded to 1000 calls since Tuesday, with 85 per cent completed.

"We just don't know what's going to happen," SES communications manager Peter O'Neill said about the next 24 hours.

Mr O'Neill said most of the damage was coastal, particularly in the Sutherland Shire, Illawarra and the Central Coast.

A number of roads were cut off while houses and unit blocks were sandbagged to prevent flooding, he said.

Most calls were for leaking and cracked roofs, flash floods and fallen trees.

Mr O'Neill said people can take evasive action to prevent damage to property.

"People should, if possible, clean out gutters and down pipes and listen to the radio to hear for severe weather warnings," he said.

"Put away loose objects and where possible keep pets and children indoors.

"And don't attempt to walk or drive through flood waters.

"If they need help call the SES on 132 500."

Mr O'Neill said 100 SES volunteer crews were on stand-by for the 150 now working across NSW. Sydney's south has also been responsible for more than 65 per cent of the 450 claims lodged with NRMA Insurance over the past 48 hours for damage to vehicles and property.


The NRMA responded to 1745 calls between 6am and 2.30pm yesterday.

NRMA Acting CEO, Mr Peter Steele warned motorists to reduce their speed and maintain safe distances between vehicles to avoid rear end collision.

Wet weather contributed to a number of crashes across Sydney.

At Wentworthville, a man was trapped in his car after it was swept off the road and into a stormwater drain about 6am.

Ambulance officers had to wade to the man with cutting equipment to release him from his vehicle.

He was taken to Westmead Hospital for treatment.

At Lane Cove, occupants of a car were briefly trapped by rising waters on Mowbray Rd.

Bob Moore, senior forecaster at Sydney's Bureau of Meteorology warned "further showers" over the next 24 hours.

But he does expect to see it ease tomorrow morning however rain will return by the afternoon.

"It should clear on Saturday and contract south," he said.


In the 24-hour period to 9am yesterday morning, 109mm of rain fell in Oatley and 108mm in Turramurra, on Sydney's north shore, short of the 336mm recorded at Observatory Hill on one day in 1992.

Despite the big wet, voluntary water restrictions still apply across the metropolitan area.

Energy Minister Frank Sartor said Warragamba Dam, which supplies 80 per cent of Sydney's water, was still at a low 57.9 per cent.

"Voluntary water restrictions will remain in place until our dam levels improve," he said.
 

 

SHIRE DECLARED NATURAL DISASTER AREA/EMA

Emergency services are working to clean up homes, schools and businesses hit by flooding in Sydney and along the New South Wales central coast. Amongst the widespread traffic disruptions there has also been a dramatic helicopter rescue of stranded motorists. At the same time, lightning strikes have ignited fires in the area.

The New South Wales Government has declared parts of Sydney's south a natural disaster area as the cleanup from the flash floods continues. New South Wales emergency services remain on high alert with more storms forecast to hit Sydney in the coming days. The declaration means local councils, small businesses and residents in the Sutherland Shire are entitled to financial assistance in the form of low interest loans and government grants.

The area is one of the worst affected, with torrential rain leaving many homes and businesses inundated with water. The Minister for Emergency Services, Tony Kelly, says the Sutherland Shire is the only council at this stage seeking assistance. "We've had a request from the Sutherland Shire Council, because of the damage that they've occasioned here, to declare it a natural disaster area, and the Treasurer has now signed off on that," he said.

At North Bexley, two people have been airlifted from the roofs of their submerged cars. Power has been restored to 50,000 homes in the city's south and 2,000 on the central coast. The weather bureau warns the rain is expected to persist for several days.


 

RAINFALL TOTALS FOR ST GEORGE/SUTHERLAND/By Scott Deller    14th May 2003

The states highest rainfall for the 24hr period between 9am Wednesday and 9am Thursday was in the Royal National Park where it recorded 143mm.Other ares within the district that also hit the century mark were South Cronulla (117mm), San Souci (114mm), Peakhurst (113mm) and Oatley (109mm)

 

 

CHOPPERS TO RETURN/Daily Telegraph                                                                14th May 2003

The airborne heroes of Australia's bushfires - Georgia Peach, Elvis, and the Incredible Hulk - will return to fight another day with funding for the helicopters renewed for the 2003-2004 fire season.

Funding of $5.5 million will be injected for the Erickson Aircrane helitankers, credited with dousing scores of blazes that threatened people and property around Sydney last year.

The money will be used transport and lease the craft from their Canadian homelands, where they are used in the northern hemisphere summer.

State governments will pay for operating costs in a continuation of the existing funding system.

 

 

FLOODS CAUSE TRAFFIC CHAOS/Daily Telegraph                                  13th May 2003

FLASH flooding has caused traffic chaos in Sydney and along the NSW central coast, forcing some motorists to scramble to safety on top of their cars.

During one delicate rescue in Sydney's south-west today a helicopter paramedic was winched down to rescue two motorists stranded on top of vehicles in fast-flowing, rapidly-rising floodwaters.

Westpac Life Saver helicopter spokesman Bruce Tarrant said emergency crews flew to Bexley Road, Bexley, where they discovered the water levels had come within a couple of centimetres of the two vehicles rooftops.

The helicopter service winched the stranded man and woman to safety.

The NSW ambulance service was forced to take to a row boat to get to a man who had lapsed into unconsciousness in a catering equipment showroom on Box Rd, Sutherland, which had been inundated with water.

Ambulance spokesman Ben Lynch said officers used a row boat to rescue the middle-aged man who was taken to Sutherland Hospital.

Heavy rain also forced the evacuation of a NSW central coast school today.

More than 300 students of Narara Valley High School at Narara were evacuated to a nearby community centre this morning when access roads to the school were flooded.

A spokesman for the NSW Education Department said earlier suggestions the school had been flooded were wrong, adding it had been evacuated only as a precaution to prevent students being stranded by flooded roads.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said in the three hours from 9am to 12 noon (AEST) today, 91mm of rain fell in the Royal National Park, to the city's south, while Sans Souci recorded 70mm in the same period, Peakhurst 53mm and Cronulla 56mm.

During the 24 hours to 9am today, 60mm of rain was recorded in Berowra, North Parramatta had 43mm, Sydney (Observatory Hill) 38mm, Turramurra 31mm and Homebush 38mm.

Penrith, in Sydney's west, recorded just 9mm during the same period.

The heaviest downpours were focused on a narrow strip of NSW stretching from the Shoalhaven area south of Sydney to the northern rivers region.

Very light rainfall fell in Broken Hill, in the state's far west while the rest of the state remained dry, according to the BOM.

The rain was expected to continue in coastal areas until at least Friday, it said.

Meanwhile, the State Emergency Service (SES) received 400 calls for help by 1.40pm (AEST) today.

An SES spokeswoman said most of the 200 volunteers had been called to southern Sydney to help clear felled trees and overflowing gutters.

Between 30 and 50 calls had reported people trapped within their cars, but it had not been established how many of these were repeat calls for help.

She said most calls had come from Rockdale, Kogarah, the Sutherland Shire and Wolli Creek with others from residents of Gosford and Wyong, on the central coast.

The Roads Traffic Authority said several roads remained closed this afternoon in the metropolitan centres of Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong.

The NSW Ambulance Service responded to about fourteen calls of minor car crashes between 8am and 1.30pm in the Sydney metropolitan area.

Police said there had been no serious road crashes today.

 

 

1900 WEATHER UPDATE/By Scott Deller                                                   13th May 2003

The "severe weather" warning is still currently active for the following districts: Sydney Metropolitan, Central Coast and Illawarra. The current synoptic chart shows a slow moving high pressure system of the east coast of Tasmania. Injecting large amounts of moisture on to the coast from the easterly winds resulting in heavy showers and weak storms.

The St George and Sutherland Shire has received the majority of the heavy rain with 115mm falling in the Royal National Park. Local RFS crews have also been kept busy with homes flooded at Caringbah, Liili Pilli and Kurnell. President Private hospital was also affected with water gushing thru the operating theatre earlier this morning.

The Bureau of Meteorology predicts the rain to persist until Saturday with conditions to clear by early Sunday morning.

See Photo Gallery

 

 

1000 WEATHER UPDATE/By Scott Deller                                                   13th May 2003

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a warning for "severe weather" for the following districts: Sydney Metropolitan, Illawarra, Hunter and Central Tablelands.. Very heavy rainfall and local flooding is expected today in those areas. Onshore winds are bringing heavy showers and localised thunderstorms onto the coast from a north easterly direction.

Disruptions to all transport services is being experienced today with roads closed due to flooding and localised storms are causing power outages affecting traffic lights and railway signal boxes.

Sydney Airport has received the metropolitan highest rainfall since 9am of 48.8mm.

                                      

 

 

BBQ A REAL BREAD WINNER/By Scott Deller                                         10th May 2003

Members of Grays Point Rural Fire Serevice cooked a real sizzler of a BBQ today raising over fifteen hundred dollars for the brigade. This coincided with Harvey Norman's clearance sale which was held at it's Taren Point Warehouse located in the city's south. A raffle also took place and was extremely popular amongst the staff as well as members of the public. Special thanks to Sig for our invitation to attend. Also a big thanks to Sutton's City Holden and Phil for supplying the raffle prizes and all those from the brigade for their chef like help.

                                                                                       

 

LOCAL FIREFIGHTERS HONOURED AT CEREMONY/By Scott Deller      6th May 2003

Congratulations to Martyn Kiellor and Phillip Walker who received the Commissioners Commendation for Bravery for their selfless act during the 1994 Bushfires. The awards were presented to the pair at the prestigious  awards ceremony that was held last Sunday.

Extract from Ceremony Booklet:

On 8 January 1994, the southern Sydney Suburb of Jannali was impacted by wildfire of such intensity that even property protection was impossible. While assisting with the evacuation of civilians, Captain Kiellor and Deputy Captain Walker were alerted to the plight of three persons trapped in a house in the immediate path of the firefront. Despite a direct threat to their own lives, the two officers attended the scene on foot and carrying breathing apparatus, the fire being too intense to allow approach by vehicle. The badly burnt victims were located in a backyard swimming pool and were protected and assisted by the two officers until medical assistance could be safely deployed. Despite placing their own lives in direct danger, these two officers succeeded in saving the lives of two of the victims. Their courage and self-sacrifice are an outstanding example and have brought great honour to themselves and their Brigade.

 

 

RURAL FIREFIGHTERS AWARDED/Daily Telegraph                                           5th May 2003

Forty-Five rural firefighters were presented with awards yesterday. Emergency Services Minister Tony Kelly, who presented to Rural Fire Service Awards, said the service had the respect of the whole community for the work they do. "Members of the service risk their lives serving the community ... we honour what is best about (them) - dedication, community spirit and selflessness," he said in a statement. Mr Kelly was also present for the beginning of construction for the new RFS headquarters at Homebush, in Sydney's west.

 

 

SHIRE FCO APPOINTED                                                                         5th May 2003

Congratulations to John Wood who had been appointed to the position of FCO.

 

 

CLIMATE SUMMARY APRIL 2003/BOM                                                    2nd May 2003

  April
  2003 Average 2002
Average maximum
temperature (C)
22.7 23.1* 24.3
Average minimum
temperature (C)
14.9 15.1* 16.4
Mean
temperature (C)
18.8 19.1* 20.3
Rain
(mm)
192.2 127.4# 68.4
Number of
rain days
18 12 9
Average daily
sunshine (hours)
5.7 6.8 7.6