Heavy rains along Australia’s east coast over the weekend have brought the worst flooding in half a century in some areas, authorities said on Sunday, forcing thousands to evacuate and damaging hundreds of houses.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the downpour across the state, Australia’s most populous with 8 million people, was worse than initially expected, especially for low-lying areas in Sydney’s northwest.
“Yesterday, we were hoping it will only be a one-in-20-year event, now it looks like a one-in-50-year event,” Berejiklian said at a televised briefing.
People in parts of Sydney’s northwest were ordered to flee their houses in the middle of the night as fast-moving waters caused widespread destruction. Late on Sunday, about another 1,000 people were asked to evacuate, after Berejiklian said that some 4,000 people may be asked to leave their houses. Television and social media footage showed fast-moving water unmooring houses, engulfing roads, breaking trees and damaging road infrastructure. Emergency services estimate the total number of damaged houses to be “in the hundreds”.
Several major roads were closed across the state while many schools called off classes for Monday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison in a Facebook post announced federal financial assistance for those affected.
Flooding risk and evacuation warnings were in place for about 13 areas in NSW, including the Hunter, one of Australia’s major wine regions.
Several dams, including Warragamba, Sydney’s main water supply, spilled over causing river levels to surge.
- MELBOURNE (Reuters),
21 March, 2021