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Rescue service, new bridge receive NSW flood response funds

The NSW government says a $94.7 million State Emergency Service funding injection will strengthen flood preparedness, including in the vulnerable Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley and Northern Rivers regions.

By the end of next month, the SES will have rolled out 40 new rescue vessels, 75 Ark Angel rafts, 45 command vehicles and two heavy rescue vehicles.

Planning for more than 100 infrastructure improvements is also under way, including consultation on a bypass of Pitt Town to help Hawkesbury residents evacuate faster during floods and a new Richmond bridge to be built in a $500 million federal-state initiative.

The bridge will be about 10 metres higher than the existing crossing of Hawkesbury River.

“The NSW government has been working hard to get flood preparation and mitigation right. This includes creating safer, faster evacuation routes, improving flood resilience on our roads and ensuring the SES is well equipped to safeguard our communities in times of crisis,” state Premier Chris Minns said.

Over four years, new funding will allow the NSW SES to fund fleet maintenance, new equipment, training and volunteer recruitment, and enhance public information.

In the first 12 months, a further $18 million will be invested to improve flood intelligence and rescue response, co-ordination, systems and training.

State Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib says more than 4000 volunteers responded to flood incidents in April as NSW received two months’ worth of rain over 36 hours. More than 1800 incidents have been responded to this month as floodwater cut off communities.

“This additional funding will provide a significant boost,” Mr Dib said.

NSW SES acting commissioner Deb Platz says the investment is the largest commitment in the agency’s history.

“We need to be as prepared as possible – floods can be far worse than we have experienced over the past few years,” she said.