|No swimming ... floods have badly damaged the public pool at Adelong, in Tumut Shire.|
THE State Emergency Service has no record of a flood this big. Locals whose memories stretch back far enough say it is the greatest inundation in 80 years.
Speaking at a meeting of affected councils, the mayor of Wagga Wagga, Wayne Geale, said Wagga would have a damage bill of at least $10 million. The damage in surrounding shires was expected to eclipse that figure.
Great swathes of NSW are still under water - areas that a few days ago were drought-stricken.
Wagga and Albury were both declared disaster zones, as were 18 other council areas, including the shires of Narrandera, Jerilderie, Gundagai and Lockhart.
''While we haven't [been] able to fully quantify the extent of the damage from the weekend's flooding, reports we are getting from the community suggest there has been significant agricultural damage,'' the NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Steve Whan, said.
''There are some anecdotal reports of missing stock and stock deaths - and damaged fencing, crops and pastures - but as yet no confirmed stock losses.''
The rain had stopped yesterday. Caused by moist air from the north and an unseasonable cold front from the south, storms at the weekend dumped 150 millimetres around Wagga. In the west of the state, there were falls of between 30 and 60 millimetres between Thursday night and Saturday morning.
The SES said its key concern was the flood moving down Billabong Creek and the Murrumbidgee River.
''It's not where the rivers have broken; it's where they're still in their watercourses that's easier to say,'' a spokesman for the SES, Steve Delaney, said. ''There's water all over the south of the state.''
Urana, west of Wagga, was sandbagged yesterday. A second deluge was expected to hit the town overnight before flooding Jerilderie later in the week.
''Everyone's a little anxious,'' Max Wright, who runs the Hotel Urana, said. ''There's a quiet mood over the town.''
The bank in Adelong, west of Tumut, could not be saved. When the waters receded, the mud inside was 30 centimetres deep. Computers and files were destroyed. The branch manager would not comment yesterday.
The SES said it had received 1550 calls for help since Friday. About 500 people had evacuated their homes - 200 of them after a red alert was issued around Mannus Dam, which developed a crack under the weight of water.
Mr Whan said homes and businesses had been flooded. Bridges, culverts and other public infrastructure were also damaged.
''What we're now looking at are floods you could set your calendar by, not your watch,'' Mr Whan said. ''While we've moved past the flash flooding of late last week, there are still currently flood warnings in place for the upper Murray, Murrumbidgee, Castlereagh, Gwydir and Barwon rivers.''