VOLUNTEERS and staff from the Bathurst branch of the State Emergency Service (SES) have been called in to assist with the flood response in northern NSW.
After lashing Queensland, the wild weather has moved into NSW and caused substantial flooding in numerous communities.
As of Wednesday afternoon, at least four people had been killed in the state, with three found in Lismore and one on the central coast, and more than a thousand others were still missing.
SES Western Zone community capability officer David Rankine, who himself has been sent to work up north in response to the floods, said the volunteers from Bathurst were being used to rescue people.
"We've got four or five volunteers from Bathurst who [on Monday] went up to Lismore. They are all flood technicians and they have been up there assisting the northern rivers communities with flood rescues," he said.
"... What's been really needed is people who are capable of getting in flood boats in swift water who have been trained to undertake that task.
"All of the volunteers that are presenting from out of area - and we've got them from the Hunter Valley, Newcastle area, metropolitan, Central West, and I think Parkes and Orange have also sent volunteer teams - they've all been flood rescue technicians because that's the thing that has been most desperately needed."
Mr Rankine said the situation facing communities on the east coast was "absolutely devastating".
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"Ballina at the moment is expected to be completely inundated with water to a level of about 2.5 metres. That has never happened in the history of that community," he said.
"You've obviously been watching the TV news and seen the devastation of Lismore. Our volunteers have been in that community providing assistance, as well as now moving down to Ballina to help them.
"We've seen very limited loss of life, thankfully, but I'll note that the Red Cross are currently identifying that 1100 people are still unaccounted for. We're hoping that the vast majority of them have been able to get to the safety of friends and family and just haven't been able to check in because phone services have been down.
"It is historical flooding up here; it's something that no community member or any member of the emergency service has ever experienced on the east coast of NSW."
Mr Rankine said the Bathurst volunteers have been deployed for a period of five days, but it is possible that could be extended.
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