Disaster Zones Declared As 18,000 People Evacuated In Sydney and Mid-North Coast
By Staff, Agencies
Some 10 million Australians remain under a weather warning on Monday night as a group of colliding weather systems cause flooding chaos across swathes of New South Wales, leading to dozens of communities being declared disaster zones and forcing more than 18,000 people to evacuate from their homes.
More than 800mm of rain has fallen in less than a week in some parts of the Australian state, leaving a trail of destruction which stretched from the densely populated suburbs of western Sydney to the sleepy coastal towns of Taree and Kempsey, hundreds of kilometers away on the NSW mid-north coast.
As night fell on Monday, authorities in the state issued a flurry of new flood and evacuation warnings, as rivers west of Sydney rose faster than expected, emphasizing the danger had far from passed.
The NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, described it as a “miracle” that no lives had been lost, but with another 50-100mm expected to fall across pasts of the east coast again on Tuesday, and river levels still rising, thousands of Australians remained on high-alert.
The extent of the deluge shocked experts. Justin Robinson, a flooding forecaster for the Bureau of Meteorology, Australia’s weather agency, said it was the “worst flooding that I have experienced and I have had to forecast” in 20 years in the job. Berejiklian said the floods were “an event which far exceeds what has occurred in the past 50 or 60 years.”
The floods come less than 18 months after Australia was gripped by a bushfire crisis which saw towns levelled and dozens killed. Many of the places which have found themselves inundated by a record downfall were still recovering from that disaster.
In the town of Windsor, which sits on the banks of the Hawkesbury River on Sydney’s north-west fringe, volunteers filled sandbags for nervous residents hoping to protect their homes.
The bulk of the flooding had taken place in two parts of the state – both the outer western suburbs of Sydney and the regional mid-north coastal areas around Taree and Kempsey.
Berejiklian on Monday told reporters that some 15,000 mid-north coast residents had been evacuated, along with around 3,000 residents from western Sydney’s Nepean-Hawkesbury region.