Moree assesses flood damage as Murray River peaks in Echuca with wetter weather on the way

A body believed to be that of a missing woman was found in floodwaters in west-central New South Wales, and the Murray River has peaked at Echuca, while flood emergencies occur across eastern Australia.

The 28-year-old woman and three other people were traveling in a car that was swept off a causeway in Gulgong, near Mudgee, on Sunday evening. The driver and two passengers escaped the vehicle and escaped to safety, according to police.

The woman also reportedly got out of the vehicle, but was not tracked down. Although her body has not yet been formally identified, a police statement said it was believed to be the missing woman.

Related: Sydney breaks October’s rainfall record with Victoria also on track for the wettest month ever

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet expressed his condolences to the deceased woman’s family and thanked those involved in the research.

“We have hundreds of SES volunteers in the field across our state doing extraordinary work, putting their lives in danger, day in and day out, to provide that security for our people across New South Wales,” he said.

The discovery took place amid heavy rains and over 130 flood warnings across the state.

Moree, in the northwest of the state, has been flooded in recent days and some 4,000 people have been told to evacuate.

Christoph, who lives in the north of Moree, woke up Sunday morning to the water that laps his house.

“It’s very overwhelming,” he said. “They look like trenches in front of every house.

“The streets in front of our subdivision are covered with 40 cm high water. If I stand in the middle of the road, my rubber boots fill up with water.

Greg Henry, of the local radio station Now FM in Moree, spent the morning walking around the city center, observing the damage caused by the receding floodwaters.

“[It] left all kinds of debris from higher ground, ”he said. “It’s sticky, smelly, lousy … [with] very dense river silt all along. “

Record-breaking rainfall in parts of the state has led to significant flows in inland rivers and dams.

Copeton Dam, near Inverell, achieved a spill rate of 150 GL per day, while Split Rock on the Manila River began spilling for the first time since 2001.

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WaterNSW said the scale of the impacts was “unprecedented in recent decades”.

“Some regional dams in flood-affected valleys have released the equivalent of the dam’s entire volume over time, only to quickly replace water from recurrent inflows generated by persistent rain and severe storms,” ​​the agency said.

“This prolonged rainfall on saturated ground keeps the downstream tributary flow high, increasingly limiting the opportunities for large-scale water releases to reduce the level of storage, without negatively impacting downstream communities.”

Related: NSW Weather: Nearly the entire state at risk of flooding as Lismore prepares for its third major event this year

There was some little relief for Lismore, however, where a major flood warning was downgraded to moderate flooding on Monday after residents were told to prepare for evacuation Sunday night, for the third time this year.

The flood crisis continued in Victoria as well, with heavy overnight rainfall in some of the worst affected communities.

The makeshift embankment at Echuca has continued to protect residents on the one hand as authorities believe the Murray River reached its peak late Monday.

Julie Golledge is among the residents on the other side of the embankment, many of whose homes have been flooded. Her house is tall, but after the rain on Sunday evening, the water was at her door.

“He got up during the night,” Golledge said, adding that he “got over” the anxiety and was just waiting for the river to peak.

Parts of Echuca received an extra 70mm overnight, with the Murray River now standing at a suspicious peak of 94.9 meters (above sea level), surpassing the 1993 record of 94.77 meters.

“We may see a very small increase above that,” said Tim Wiebusch, Victoria’s chief operations officer of SES. “But it is bound to remain stable at that level for several days before we begin to see it drift away in and around Echuca.”

The water level appears to have peaked at Kerang, where the river sits at 77.88 meters AHD (above sea level). People in Kerang were urged to relocate to higher ground as it was declared too late to leave.

Rainy weather is expected to shift through eastern Victoria on Tuesday and statewide showers are expected on Wednesday. The flooding of the Murray River is expected to last “for weeks and weeks, flowing into Victoria,” said Dean Narramore, a meteorologist with the Bureau of Meteorology.

Wiebusch said Disaster Relief Australia has coordinated around 100 volunteers to help communities clean up, with efforts moving to Mooroopna and Rochester in the coming days.

About 80% of Rochester was flooded and some in the city complained that they felt abandoned by the emergency services.

There are also 10 flood warnings in place for Queensland’s rivers, including a major flood warning for the Macintyre River, which is expected to peak 10.2 meters late on Monday.

Cait Kelly and Peter Hannam contributed to this report

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