Two people needed to be rescued from floodwaters in Wilcannia on Sunday.
The pair became trapped in their vehicle when the vehicle became submerged in flood waters about a kilometre south of Tilpa.
Western Region Commander and Assistant Commissioner Brett Greentree said the incident served as a timely reminder of the difficulties first responders face when rescuing people from vehicles that have been driven into flood-affected roads.
“I cannot stress enough the inherent dangers faced by drivers thinking they can cross a flooded road – if it’s flooded, forget it,” Mr Greentree said.
A 64-year-old man and a 63-year-old female passenger left Wilcannia to head to Bourke in their Toyota ute.
When they left Wilcannia, they failed to acknowledge the electronic road closure sign on the left-hand side of the road.
They phoned triple zero, who contacted Emergency Services.
The NSW Police, Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Services had to travel approximately 100 kilometres north of Wilcannia but were unable to get through due to the flood levels across the unsealed road.
The couple were uninjured and did not require medical treatment after being rescued by Tilpa locals.
The pair had driven through approximately six bodies of floodwater on West Tilpa Road before becoming submerged.
Police later issued the driver an infringement notice for disobeying a road access sign.
The offence carried a $272 fine and two demerit points.
“Remarkably, since this incident, another vehicle towing a caravan became submerged in the flood waters on West Tilpa Road. The occupants have also been rescued and issued infringement notices for disobeying the road closure,” Mr Greentree said.
Mr Greentree explained that emergency resources in flood-affected areas are already busy dealing with real-time emergencies.
“In this case, we had first responders having to divert from other duties to deal with a situation that could have been easily avoided and which could have ended tragically for those involved,” he said.
The State Emergency Services NSW (SES) advises people to stay aware of flood warnings and never walk, ride or drive through floodwaters.
People should avoid drowning and being swept away by staying out of rising water, fast-flowing creeks and stormdrains.
Don’t drive, ride or walk through floodwater.
Should you become stuck, seek refuge in the highest available place, and in life-threatening emergencies, call 000 (triple zero) immediately.
If you require other emergency assistance or need to evacuate, phone NSW SES on 132 500.