Snap early morning flood evacuation order shocks small town in NSW Upper Hunter

State emergency service crews issued a wake-up call at 2 a.m. to evacuate some Denman residents in the NSW Upper Hunter as moderate flooding swept the low-lying areas of the city.

Residents in three streets were ordered to leave as the Hunter River peaked at nearly 8 meters, threatening power supplies, road access and sewage systems.

Kate Wolfgang said she was surprised by the speed of the water.

Mrs. Wolfgang moved her horses to the local show grounds late Monday night and herded the cattle to higher ground.

“We’re going to move the rest of the horses [today] just as a precaution,” she said.

Denman rancher Kate Wolfgang says she was surprised by how quickly the river peaked(ABC Upper Hunter: Jake Lapham)

Jackson Ball rushed to a neighboring property to retrieve other horses from a low-lying paddock.

“It took us about four, five hours to get the horses out of the paddock,” he said.

The Hunter River has now declined to minor levels at Denman and below minor at Muswellbrook, having peaked there at 8.2 meters Monday afternoon.

Scone also saw a rare flood this week, as Kingdon Ponds pushed the moderate flood level of 3.5m.

Common sense prevailed

Hunter SES Deputy Zone Commander Joanna Jones said Denman residents were “really receptive” to evacuation orders at night and there were no flood rescues.

“We haven’t received any requests for help overnight, so that was excellent news,” she said.

“The water is receding, it’s flowing through the rest of the fighter’s basin…so if that water is receding, we should see some reprieve.”

Irrigation equipment surrounded by floods
Irrigation equipment could barely be submerged.(ABC Upper Hunter: Jake Lapham)

Chief Inspector Jones said the imminent threat was over and crews, who had also assisted in western flood-affected areas, could now take a break.

“We’re positioned early so there’s a little bit of fatigue when you’re working at night, but the crews are resting a bit this morning and we’ve got other crews in [Denman] take a ride and make sure everything is okay,” she said.

“But we handle our fatigue very well, we’ve been trained in this. So the community can rest assured that we’ll be able to help when needed.”

Hunter River Muswellbrook Flooding Rainfall Upper Hunter
The Hunter River at Muswellbrook has been swollen for several days by heavy rain.(Delivered: Tim Harris)

Superintendent Jones said this week’s flooding should serve as a reminder of the wider Hunter Valley.

“While we should see a little reprieve from heavy rainfall today and tomorrow, the watersheds are still swampy, the rivers and creeks are still swollen and the roads are quite wet,” she said.


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