More evacuations amid ‘catastrophic’ flooding in eastern Australia | Flood News
Authorities in eastern Australia issued new flood warnings and evacuation orders amid a relentless weeklong downpour, as emergency services deployed helicopters and boats to rescue residents stranded by “catastrophic” flood waters.
In New South Wales (NSW), the worst-hit state, a fourth straight day of heavy rain on Tuesday is expected to combine with a coastal trough over the next 24 hours to increase the flood.
Flood and severe weather warnings have been extended to previously untouched areas, including the south coast of Sydney, Australia’s largest city, and the hinterland areas to the northwest, which have recently crippled by a prolonged drought.
So far, no fatalities or serious injuries have been reported, but thousands of homes and businesses have reportedly been damaged.
About 18,000 people were evacuated.
– Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@BOM_au) March 23, 2021
Exhausted emergency services, battling unprecedented bushfires just over a year ago, have used military planes and water sports equipment, including jet skis, to access communities isolated. They said they responded to more than 10,000 calls for help.
In Pitt Town, on the northwestern suburb of Sydney, resident Paul Zimmat said several people were stranded in the area due to the flood waters.
“The township is blocked,” he told Al Jazeera. “A few of my friends are stuck there. I spoke to them this morning, and they say they hope to get out in a day or two.
Nicola Gage of Al Jazeera, reporting from Pitt Town, said that “it is still a dangerous situation for most people”.
“Thousands more people are waiting to be evacuated. But there is some relief, ”she added. “Tuesday evening and Wednesday, the rains should ease. But the government says that does not mean the danger will go away, as the rivers are expected to rise further.
‘Not out of the woods’
Photos and videos on social media sites showed entire bridges swept away, stranded animals and submerged homes. One video showed a container truck hitting a bridge in New South Wales, causing extensive structural damage, while another showed a car being swept from a road by raging floodwaters in Queensland.
Organic farmer Rod Bailey said his property near Port Macquarie in New South Wales had suffered “complete devastation” with at least 95 percent of his crops destroyed by heavy rains.
“We won’t see any income for less than three months,” he told AFP news agency. “It’s a difficult situation we find ourselves in, but many of our neighbors have experienced it much worse.”
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has now issued severe weather warnings in every state or mainland except one, affecting 10 million people in the country of 25 million. He warned Tuesday that “we’re not out of the woods yet” with half of NSW still on emergency weather alert.
Gladys Berejiklian, Premier of New South Wales, said the harsh weather “is now affecting a large area of the state”.
“It is catastrophic in its dimensions and its impact will be severe, and the fact that 15,000 people may need to be evacuated within the next 24 to 48 hours is of huge concern,” she said.
Deputy State Emergency Services Commissioner Nicole Hogan told public broadcaster ABC that 1,750 more volunteers had arrived from state to state to support efforts in what would be a “critical 24 hour” .
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s main source of drinking water, is expected to continue spilling into already swollen rivers for an additional week.
“This is a complex and increasingly complex weather event,” he told reporters in Canberra.
Morrison urged people to follow the advice of authorities.
“No life has been lost at this point, luckily we pray that this continues to be the situation,” he said.