Sunday, 09 May, 2021


Thousands evacuated as downpours trigger Australia floods

Hundreds flee 'life-threatening' record floods in Australia Heavy rains near Sydney bring worst floods in 50 years
Kristine Garrett | 23 March, 2021, 03:38

More than 18,000 people in Australia have been evacuated from their homes as rain continues to mass flood the southeastern state of New South Wales.

Emergency services reported receiving more than 7,000 calls for help and carrying out about 650 flood rescues since Thursday, with reinforcements being called in from other states.

Australia Bureau of Meteorology flood specialist Justin Robinson said communities along the Hawkesbury River, northwest of the state capital, Sydney, were also bracing for the worst flooding in the area since 1961.

"I hate to say this again to all our citizens of the state, but it's not going to be an easy week for us", NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told a televised briefing.

On Monday, eight million residents were told to avoid unnecessary travel and work from home if possible, as some hard-hit areas received 25 centimetres (10 inches) of rain in 24 hours.

"Given the continuing bad weather, it may take some days to gain access to sites to assess the damage", it said.

The state's Mid North Coast has been particularly badly affected, with Berejiklian declaring the region had been struck by a "one in 100 year" disaster.

It came after the Warragamba Dam, which provides much of the drinking water for Sydney, spilled over Saturday afternoon.

Authorities have warned of a potentially "life-threatening" situation though so far there have been no reports of deaths or serious injuries. "It can make you feel like you're at breaking point but know that we are thinking of you".

"While WaterNSW is not authorised to lower the storage based on weather forecasts, significant pre-releases prior to a flood event could make flooding events more risky", WeatherNSW said.

Nevertheless, flooding has started to ease around the Nepean River and the NSW State Emergency Service (SES) has issued an "All Clear" notice to surrounding areas - meaning evacuated people in these regions can now safely return home.

The country is due to begin the first major public phase of vaccine distribution on Monday although the program has slipped behind the government's announced timetable due to supply and delivery issues.

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