Jayden Flynn (left), Joel Roberts, Paul Turner, Jason Clarke and Nick Flynn, all from Ballina, enjoy the conditions in the town after recent heavy rainfall.
Jayden Flynn (left), Joel Roberts, Paul Turner, Jason Clarke and Nick Flynn, all from Ballina, enjoy the conditions in the town after recent heavy rainfall. Jerad Williams

Flood risk for Northern Rivers

THE Northern Rivers could be fighting off a major flood by Sunday night if predicted heavy rain comes through.

The Bureau of Meteorology yesterday extended a flood watch for the Richmond and Wilsons rivers along with the Brunswick, Clarence and Tweed rivers after rain pounded the region on Wednesday night.

A State Emergency Servicespokesman said the downpour, combined with more heavy rain predicted between Sunday and Thursday meant there was a 70 per cent chance of a moderate to major flood in the Richmond/Wilsons valleys and in the Brunswick Valley.

He was unable to say precisely how much rain, over what period, would be needed to tip the regioninto its second flood in a fortnight.

The Tweed faced the prospect of moderate flooding and the Clarence Valley could face minor to moderate flooding.

Wednesday night's downpour dumped more than 50mm of rain on Byron Bay, Lennox Head, Rock Valley, Cawongla, Wiangaree, Yorklea, Evans Head, Bonalbo, and Drake.

Several of those areas came close to 70mm and Drake was hit with a massive 90mm. To the north, Tweed Heads had 105mm dumped on it in by 9am yesterday.

Rain continued throughout the day, but a sudden downpour onthe coast caused flash flooding atLennox Head and Ballina.

Sydney plumber and amateur photographer Wesley Walker was having breakfast at a cafe when the downpour struck and was able to capture the scene as Ballina Street quickly filled with water.

Mr Walker has visited Lennoxevery year since he was a child. His brother had lived in the village for 20 years and said he had never seen anything like it.

At Ballina the downpour was followed by a high tide that sent salt water up through the drains and over Tamar Street and Burns Point Ferry Road yesterday morning.

Heavy rain continued in the afternoon, with almost 110mm between 9am and 6pm.

There was flash flooding in CBD streets, with properties in Grant and Swift streets forced to start sandbagging as the water crept higher.

Water was over the road at Ross Lane, The Coast Road and sections of the Pacific Highway.

Northern NSW lifeguard co-ordinator Scott McCartney said dangerous surf conditions along with dirty water washed into the ocean, and increased debris from the storm forced the closure of Lighthouse Beach at Ballina and Tallow Beach at Suffolk Park and Byron Bay.

People near rivers and coastal areas should monitor weather updates on ABC North Coast, 94.5FM.

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