New South Wales (NSW) in Australia experiences another climatic havoc after bushfires last year. More than 18,000 people have been vacated from their homes as heavy rains and major flooding remain to drown the state, causing some areas to look like “inland seas.”
While rains have been affecting communities since Thursday but flooding strengthened over the weekend. There are images showing roads, trees and houses fully inundated in floodwaters in some areas.
Up to 38 places across the state are considered as natural disaster areas, and 19 evacuation orders have been released, with possibly more to come, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian shared in a news conference on Monday.
The floods have majorly hit the mid-north coast, from Hunter Valley near Sydney to Coffs Harbour, but harsh weather warnings have also been extended to comprise districts on the state’s south coast for Tuesday as there is a prediction about sift in rains. Heavy rainfall is also emerging inland in the north of the state Monday, while in the east, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has cautioned of “life-threatening” widespread flooding and heavy rain. Additionally, a severe weather warning has also been given for neighboring Queensland, with heavy rains likely bringing flash flooding to southern and western parts of the state.
Homes that were withered by wildfires during Australia’s record bushfire season in 2019 and 2020 are now being impacted by the floods.
“Communities who were battered by the bushfires are now being battered by the floods and a deep drought prior to that. I don’t know anytime in our state’s history where we’ve had these extreme weather conditions in such quick succession in the middle of a pandemic,” shared NSW Premier Berejiklian.
“You’ve been through three or four incidents which are life-changing on top of each other. It can make you feel like you are at breaking point.”
Some locations have experienced close to a meter (39 inches) of rain since Thursday, and growing rainfall of 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) is expected across the Sydney region over next 24-36 hours, Bureau of Meteorology’s Jane Golding shared in a news conference on Monday.
The areas that are the worst-affected have had rain totaling up to five times the March monthly average falling in just four days. Residents have been advised to observe the weather warnings and heed the advice of emergency services.
Since Thursday, the State Emergency Service (SES) has answered to 8,000 calls for assistance, according to Berejiklian. Thousands of emergency workers and volunteers are on the ground, assisting stuck residents.
Overnight, citizens in Kempsey were informed to vacate as the Macleay River is expected to burst its banks, according to CNN affiliate Nine News. Nine News reported that the town is presently split in two by the floodwaters, and there is no contact to the city center.
BOM’s national flood services manager, Justin Robinson, mentioned in a news conference on Monday that the extreme weather is a record-breaking “state-wide flood event” and flooding on the Hawkesbury River, which runs north and west of Sydney, is as ruthless as a similar 1961 incident.
“I’ve been a flood forecaster in the Bureau for 20 years and this is probably the worst flooding that I’ve experienced and have had to forecast,” he mentioned. “We’ve got a flood watch that covers all the way from the Queensland border down to the Victoria border, along all those coastal rivers.”
Robinson added that growing rainfall over the next few days is expected to bring renewed flooding in several communities that have already been impacted.