Surf Life Saving NSW is currently assisting SES and other agencies deal with the widespread and significant flood situation in the state’s north.

Numerous assets are positioned in key locations including Inflatable Rescue Boats (IRBs) and UAVs and the organisation has received many requests for assistance, through emergency services to the State Operations Centre.

Since Monday, Surf Life Saving NSW has assisted emergency services with transporting more than 180 people in flood waters and that number is expected to grow exponentially over the coming days.

Just this morning an IRB crew was tasked to medivac an elderly woman from a nursing home in Kingscliff with significant head injuries. There are also a number of IRBs currently conducting evacuations of people in Woodburn and around Wardell, south of Ballina.

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter is conducting food drops around Chinderah and other key assets including UAVs, Duty Officers, volunteers and liaison officers are on the ground at affected sites or stationed at Emergency Operation Centres to help coordinate responses.

“It’s a devastating incident that we’re seeing unfolding in the far north,” Surf Life Saving NSW Director of Lifesaving, Joel Wiseman said.

“It’s a significant operation, the first of its kind that Surf Life Saving has been involved in. We’ve assisted in smaller flooding events in the past, we’ve assisted in the bushfires, but this one is probably the largest response that we’ve had to provide.

“Some of our volunteers who are responding to this crisis have themselves lost homes.

“Our lifesavers are highly trained individuals and we are providing them with enhanced training with on ground support from the SES ensuring they are appropriately equipped to go out into those conditions and provide that assistance to the community as safely as possible.”

Meanwhile, the ever-present threat of another extreme weather event developing further south also has surf lifesavers on standby, with assets being prepared to respond to at-risk areas as an East Coast Low develops rapidly off the coast.

Heavy rainfall, flash flooding, coastal erosion and dangerous surf are expected to hit between the state’s Central Coast and the Far South Coast, and will coincide with extremely high tides in the mornings which will make coastal inundation and erosion a serious threat to people and property.

Surf Life Saving volunteers in the south are preparing to respond and are on standby now with rescue equipment.

“We’re gearing up for a huge response in those areas,” Joel said.

“There will be some hazardous conditions and we are encouraging anyone who is thinking about going into the water to please stay out.

“We do not want to see people out in the treacherous surf conditions placing volunteers and emergency services personnel at risk.

“Resources at the moment are hampered and we’re trying our best to keep people safe.”

Tuesday 1 March 2022