Australia weather: towns evacuated amid flash flooding warnings for NSW south coast and ACT

Several New South Wales south coast communities were on high alert on Monday morning as river levels continued to rise and towns evacuated.

The body of a kayaker was found in swollen river waters in southern Canberra on Sunday. He became separated from a group on the Murrumbidgee River near Canberra about 2pm on Sunday, after his boat became stuck under a bridge.

Water police, search and rescue teams and the ACT State Emergency Service were called in to search for the man, but after four hours he was found unresponsive in the water.

The NSW SES received 400 calls for help in Sydney and the Blue Mountains overnight, mostly wind-related, with trees downed, damaged roofs and roads flooded.

By Monday morning, flooding at the Moruya River was minor but flooding from the Shoalhaven River at Nowra and Terara was forecast, with the river expected to peak at 4.4m about 1pm.

“It has been a very wet and wild few days up and down the south coast and there is a considerable amount of water laying around in general,” the NSW SES deputy commissioner Daniel Austin told ABC News Breakfast.

“We saw some really intense rain bursts over the weekend and that just dragged on and dragged on for longer than was probably expected.”

The SES said it would also focus on Shoalhaven Heads on Monday, where more winds and damaging surf conditions were expected along the coast.

In Sydney, the Manly fast ferries were cancelled on Monday morning due to large swells in the harbour.

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The SES issued three evacuation orders late on Sunday night after up to 200mm of rain hit a number of towns including Moruya, Nowra and inland at Captains Flat over the 24 hours to Sunday evening, with up to 300mm in isolated areas.

Police again urged the public not to enter or play in flood waters or swollen rivers.

Major flooding occurred along the Deua River, which peaked at 8m on Sunday at Wamban.

The SES ordered residents in Moruya’s CBD, Sussex Inlet and Nowra suburbs including Terara, East Nowra, Worrigee and North Nowra to evacuate to higher ground.

People in low-lying areas of Sussex Inlet were told flood levels were expected to affect properties.

Sussex Inlet was forecast to rise to 1.2m with the high tide on Sunday night, and the nearby river at Island Point Road was expected to cause minor flooding.

The SES conducted more than 18 flood rescues across the weekend, with most calls coming from Berry, Nowra, Broughton Vale and Gerringong.

More than 20 homes at Broughton Vale near Berry were also cut off by flood water.

The Bureau of Meteorology senior flood hydrologist, Justin Robinson, said heavy rains were expected to ease on the south coast but move towards Sydney, the Central Coast and possibly into the Hunter on Monday.

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