About 500,000 people across NSW including 300,000 Sydney residents were in danger of flooding or told to evacuate on Thursday morning as heavy rain was forecast to worsen.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said on Thursday many residents woke up “to see much of our state underwater”.
NSW’s emergency service minister Steph Cooke said 76 evacuation orders were in place in northern NSW and affected 200,000 people. Another 18 evacuation orders in Greater Sydney and the Illawarra covered about 300,000 in the city’s north-west.
Flood warnings are in place for areas along Hawkesbury-Nepean river and the Georges River near Sydney.
The NSW State Emergency Service also issued a warning for all Sydney roads on Thursday.
⛈️Road Weather Alert for #Sydney for all suburbs
Flooded roads and reduced visibility in heavy rain will make driving conditions dangerous during Thursday in all suburbs.#Motorists are advised to take extreme care.
— NSW SES (@NSWSES) March 2, 2022
More warnings and orders were expected to come throughout Thursday as the weather system that brought floods to northern NSW and Queensland is due to reach Sydney in the afternoon.
On Thursday morning the most severe part of the system was sitting over the Central Coast and was moving slowly south.
Sydney’s south, west and north all recorded more than 100mm of rain on Wednesday, while the CBD collected about 50mm.
Another 100-150mm of rain were forecast to fall on Thursday.
The Bureau of Meteorology issued flood and severe weather warnings across eastern NSW, from north of Newcastle down to Moruya Heads on the South Coast.
NSW SES’s Greg Nash said flooding wouldn’t just be caused by rising rivers. Flash flooding was also likely in other areas because the ground was already sodden.
“The majority of the ground in the whole of NSW is already completely saturated and what this rain will likely do is cause flash flooding in areas because water simply won’t have anywhere to go,” he said.
Residents in the Northern Rivers and across Queensland have also been running out of food, medicine and drinking water as floods have disrupted the states’ long and fragile supply chains.
The flooding has closed major road transport routes, including the M1 Pacific Highway limiting supermarkets’ and shops’ access to supplies.
And now they are just taunting me! There is literally no fresh food in my northern NSW supermarket and very little canned and dried but tonight they emailed me this … #NSWFLOODS #nswflood #flooding @gabriellechan pic.twitter.com/PRHTtBbBIA
— Christine Tondorf (@CTondorf) March 2, 2022
Hundreds of Coles and Woolworths have been shut at some point during the floods and the ones that have remained open have been mostly empty.
Both major supermarkets introduced purchase limits on some products like meat and toilet paper on Tuesday.
Woolworths expanded the limits to all of Queensland and northern NSW on Wednesday.
The SES was still working out who needs essential items and how to get them there on Wednesday but announced it would ramp up helicopter drops and boats ferrying supplies to meet the growing demand.
Outside of the flood zones, areas that rely on produce from southern Queensland and northern NSW have also been left facing empty shelves.
Guardian Australia reported towns in central Queensland, 2,000km away from the floods, had been left without produce due to disrupted supply chains.
If you’re in Sydney or other parts of NSW remember to only buy what you need and stay safe.