Forbes should be declared a natural disaster area as farmers count the cost of flooding

The NSW government has said it has started the process for Forbes to be declared a natural disaster area.

Major flooding has caused extensive damage to the county’s farmland, with millions of dollars in crops and pasture lost to the flooding.

The government says it has prepared the documents for the declaration to be made and is now waiting for the federal government to respond.

“We have been there alongside our rural communities, and I repeat, the government of New South Wales will support you.”

Floodwaters cover a large area of ​​land in Forbes, in west-central New South Wales.(Provided: NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole)

The Lachlan River reached 10.53 meters on the east side of Forbes on Thursday morning.

That’s more than ten centimeters below what was originally forecast and less than the flooding that hit the county in 2016.

There were 33 flood rescues during this emergency and many streets and gardens are covered with water.

“We won’t know the extent of this damage until the water recedes.”

A steel bridge with water about half a meter below the deck
Floodwaters from the local landmark, the Iron Bridge, were approaching the bridge.(ABC Center-Ouest: Mollie Gorman)

With harvest not yet starting in some areas, Chris Groves of the NSW Farmers Association said the losses would be substantial.

“I think it’s safe to say that we had a little bit of rain just around harvest time,” Mr. Groves said.

“People will have no income in these low lying areas.”

‘We will get there’

More rain is on the horizon and Mr Groves said that, coupled with the lack of airspace at the Wyangala Dam upstream, the situation is likely to deteriorate.


“I hope they mitigate the water as much as possible with the Wyangala Dam,” Mr. Groves said.

“If we still get a lot of rain, it will be [exacerbated]. It’s going to go on for another three or four days, so definitely more rain on the weekend that we could do without. “

Mr. Toole is in Forbes with Premier Dominic Perrottet and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott to meet with volunteers, residents and farmers from the State Emergency Service.

“This is the spirit that drives our state in these difficult times and, as Prime Minister, coming here and visiting helps understand the extent of the damage we see and the challenge that still awaits us here in Forbes., said Perrottet.

“At the end of the day, we’ll go through this like we’ve been through everything in the past.”

Woman and man talking
Forbes Mayor Phyllis Miller speaks with NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole.(ABC Center-Ouest: Mollie Gorman)

The expansion of the dam floated

Farmers and residents of Forbes have expressed concern about how long it will take to complete the planning process for the proposed Wyangala Dam upgrade to Forbes.

The state and federal governments want to raise the dam wall to store more water.

The storage is located upstream, east of Cowra, and the millions of liters that had to be dumped contributed to the major flooding in Forbes.

The business case for the project is not yet complete and there has been a lot of speculation that members of government and government agencies want to put the work on the back burner.

Two men chatting with a group of people around them
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet meets with SES volunteers in Forbes.(ABC Center-Ouest: Mollie Gorman)

“We have invested record budgets in emergency services in critical infrastructure statewide – dams are an important part of this program.

“We have set aside significant funds for projects across the state and will continue to work with the Commonwealth.”

Mr Perrottet said he could not give a date by which the business case would be completed.

The threat is moving downstream

Dave Rankin of SES said that with the immediate danger in Forbes seemingly over, attention will shift to other riverine communities.

A small puddle under a sign indicating
The river views from this trailer park had started to get a little too close for comfort.(ABC Center-Ouest: Mollie Gorman)

“We hope the weaker flood peak doesn’t affect these communities too much, but we certainly stay the course to stay prepared, to help these communities as we did this week in Forbes.”

A partial green light was issued for parts of Forbes yesterday afternoon, allowing about two-thirds of affected residents to return home.

Properties on Bathurst, Ferry and Ooma streets are among those still considered potentially flood-prone.

“There is still some water circulating in the place, but for the people we have given the green light to, we do not consider them to be at risk of flooding,” said Mr. Rankin.

Forbes resident Grant Nicholson pictured at Forbes Lake
Grant Nicholson, Forbes resident, pictured at Forbes Lake.(ABC News: Jake Lapham)

The forecast worries some residents

Despite the lifting of evacuation orders yesterday afternoon for two-thirds of residents who were asked to leave their homes, some residents are still worried.

Grant Nicholson said as the Lachlan continued to rise, he personally felt the danger was not over.

Katie Guise took a morning walk along Lake Forbes to check flood levels.

Two women standing at the edge of a flooded lake
Katie Guise and Hayley Hurford inspect flood levels.(ABC News: Jake Lapham)

Hayley Hurford said while it was a relief major flooding was averted, the weather forecast was still worrying.

“I think the dangerous part is over, but we’ll have more rain over the weekend and next week, so we’ll see what happens then,” she said.