Hobart begins clean-up after flash floods

Five people have been rescued after record-breaking rain caused widespread flooding in Tasmania.Four people including a 15-year-old boy have been rescued after record-breaking rain in southern Tasmania caused flooding and damage described as a catastrophe by insurers.

Hobart on Friday recorded its wettest day since 1960, with 129mm falling in 24 hours alongside wind gusts of more than 80km/h.

Emergency services received nearly 400 calls for assistance, while flooding forced the closure of the University of Tasmania’s Sandy Bay campus.

A campus security guard had to be rescued from a windowless room which was quickly filling with water.

North of the city at New Norfolk a 15-year-old boy was winched to safety from a cricket oval, and two people were rescued from a car after trying to drive through flood waters at New Town.

SES director Andrew Lea said Friday’s flooding was unprecedented.

“I have been in this job for 17 years and I haven’t seen an event of this scale in the Hobart area so it is very significant,” he told reporters.

The Insurance Council of declared the resultant damage a catastrophe, while the RACT expected the cost of the storm among only its customers to exceed $1 million after receiving more than 400 claims.

Leaks and flooding at the Royal Hobart Hospital led to the closure of 15 beds, including in oncology intensive care and paediatrics.

Seven of the beds remained out of action after the hospital lifted its emergency “code yellow” on Friday afternoon.

Energy provider TasNetworks said about 15,000 homes were still without power, with some expected to remain in darkness overnight.

An evacuation centre remained open next to Hobart’s State Library as people were urged to avoid flood-hit areas.

“There is still a lot of water around and a lot of that water is contaminated with sewage,” Mr Lea said.

Outside metropolitan areas farmers welcomed the deluge off the back of below-average summer and autumn rainfall.

“Because it’s been very dry most of the rain has been soaked into the ground,” Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association boss Peter Skillern told AAP.

“While we welcome the rain we would’ve preferred a little less of course and without the gusty winds.”

Record-breaking rainfall totals included 236mm at Mt Wellington, 226mm at Leslie Vale, and 160mm at Grove.

Conditions were expected to ease into Friday night but a severe weather warning remained in place for the state’s northeast, along with minor flood warnings for the North Esk, Derwent and Huon rivers.

At an earlier press conference, Premier Will Hodgman thanked emergency services and praised the resilience of Tasmanians.

“We are not unused to extreme weather events,” he said.

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