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Lismore prepares for worst as floodwaters ris -

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PETER CAVE: Homes and businesses have been evacuated in Lismore as the city prepares for
potentially deep and fast -flowing floodwaters.

Around 5,000 people are now staying with friends or have moved to an evacuation centre.

The city was hit by torrential rain last night from the same weather system that's caused extensive
flooding in South-East Queensland.

Now the Wilsons River which runs through the centre of town is close to breaking its banks.

David Mark reports the city waiting and watching.

DAVID MARK: The centre of Lismore has been shut down. The schools are all closed.

The torrential storm that dumped more than 100 millimetres on Lismore last night has brought
business in town to a virtual stand-still.

Michael Smith runs Scott's newsagency on Molesworth Street.

MICHAEL SMITH: Just holding to wait and see what happens to be honest with you. There's a fair bit
of traffic around and people having a look and we've lifted all our stuff up to a certain height,
hoping that it won't come in. But I don't think anybody knows what's going to happen at this stage.
Now it's starting to rain again so....

DAVID MARK: Indeed Mr Smith's business is one of the only ones still open in Lismore after the
State Emergency Service ordered an evacuation.

Delisa Allen packed up and left her barber shop business in Lismore last night.

DELISSA ALLEN: Oh well we drove downtown at about eight o'clock I suppose last night, just to see
what the water was doing and drove into Zadoc Street and it was coming up in the basin, so it
looked a bit scary. So we thought we'd just sit down at the shop and wait and see what was
happening.

We were going to wait until the next report which I think was about 10 o'clock and yeah it sort of
started coming up quickly and then the fire truck was going around saying evacuate the whole of
Lismore and then there was a thing over the radio as well to evacuate.

So we started to - went up to my dad's and got his ute and came and got my husband's four wheel
drive and started to pack up.

DAVID MARK: Around 5,000 people have left their homes and workplaces.

Phil Campbell is a spokesman from the SES.

PHIL CAMPBELL: The period for people to have evacuated from behind the levee system in Lismore has
now passed.

The river is continuing to rise and has now reached close to 10.2 metres at around 10.40am on
Friday. It is now getting close to the predicted peak of 10.4 metres and also close to the height
at which the levee can potentially overtop.

DAVID MARK: Is it a dangerous situation?

PHIL CAMPBELL: Should the levee be overtopped and I would like to emphasise that is only a very
slight possibility, but should it be overtopped there is the possibility that the area will be
rapidly inundated behind the levee with deep, fast flowing water. And because of that danger of
deep, fast flowing water and the risk to public safety, it's important that people stay well away.

DAVID MARK: Most of the evacuees are staying with family and friends or at an evacuation centre at
Southern Cross University.

But not everyone's leaving.

Di Trehahn lives in South Lismore:

DI TREHAHN: My family have actually lived in this area, like in this home, family home for 60
years. So we've sort of seen different major floods through here; 54, 74, 1989. So no, I just sort
of stay put, I like to stay with my property.

DAVID MARK: The city could be inundated with floodwaters but clean drinking water is in short
supply.

Wayne Franklin from the regional water supplier, Rous Water, is sending out this warning to
residents:

WAYNE FRANKLIN: Today and over the weekend, only to use water for essential purposes. We have had
some problems with the widespread power outages affecting our ability to supply water. So we just
want people to go steady.

We don't have any quality problems. The water is absolutely safe to drink, but just with our pumps
and that not being able to run as often as they ought to, we just want people to be steady.

DAVID MARK: The weather system that drenched Lismore has caused falls of up to 450 millimetres on
parts of north-east New South Wales and South-East Queensland.

Deryn Griffiths is an assistant manager with the Bureau of Meteorology:

DERYN GRIFFITHS: Very tight low pressure system just off the northern coast of New South Wales for
the last few days now. The rain is mostly to the southern side of that system.

DAVID MARK: The outlook for the rest of the day, particularly around Lismore which is experiencing
the prospect of flooding?

DERYN GRIFFITHS: Yes, the flooding in Lismore is from rain that has already fallen, so we're not
expecting a lot of rain there today and there's some more rain tomorrow, but the rain causing the
flooding has already fallen.

DAVID MARK: But heavy rain is falling further south on the New South Wales coast.

The SES is keeping a close eye on towns downstream of Lismore as well as Grafton on the mid-north
Coast where floodwaters are also rising.

The organisation is asking residents particularly in rural areas to stock up on medicines, fuel,
stock feed and food. They may be isolated for several days.

PETER CAVE: David Mark reporting.