Sydney floods inundate area; hundreds rescued as rain continues

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SYDNEY — Hundreds of people have been rescued as severe flooding hit the Sydney area for the fourth time in less than a year and a half.

Days of torrential rain swamped some suburbs – sweeping cars off roads and engulfing bridges – as authorities warned the treacherous weather would continue.

“This event is far from over,” New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet warned on Tuesday. There were currently 102 evacuation orders in place across the state, including nearly two dozen new ones overnight, he said, adding that the evacuation orders or warnings had affected about 50,000 people.

The federal government has declared the floods a natural disaster, allowing some victims to access recovery funds. On Monday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was briefed on the situation after a clandestine trip to Ukraine.

Australia’s east coast has seen four major floods in less than 18 months as a persistent La Niña weather pattern has brought cooler and wetter conditions.

Sydney was already suffering from its wettest year on record when 1.5 months of rain landed on the city in the first four days of July alone.

A widely viewed BBC chart captured Sydney’s soggy situation: It showed Australia’s most populous city getting significantly more rain from Friday to Monday than London – no stranger to downpours – on average over a year.

A meteorologist said the city received the equivalent of all the water from Sydney Harbor each day during the downpour.

“It’s hard to imagine we’re seeing a rain event of this magnitude again in this part of Australia,” Weatherzone meteorologist Ben Domensino told local Nine Network television on Monday.

A spokesperson for the state emergency services, or SES, said at noon Tuesday that the agency had completed 152 flood rescues in the past 24 hours, and nearly 300 since the start of the floods. flooding in some areas on June 28. There have been no known deaths, she said. (The Sydney kayaker’s death over the weekend was unrelated to flooding, police say.)

News footage showed water completely covering a bridge in the town of Windsor, northwest of Sydney.

For some Sydney residents, the flooding was the third in four months.

” Where to start ? Mentally, physically, financially, it destroys you,” Judy White told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. She said she was still cleaning up after the last flood when waters flooded her home in the suburbs again. from Sydney to Londonderry.

Scientists say climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of natural disasters, including floods.

James Pittock, a climate expert at the Australian National University, told the ABC the government should offer to buy 5,000 or 6,000 of the most flood-prone homes in western Sydney.

Perrottet said 19,000 homes were without power on Tuesday due to heavy rains, which are expected to continue this week.

SES Commissioner Carlene York, who said the floods had “exhausted” her agency’s resources, urged people not to drive unless absolutely necessary.

“If you don’t have to travel on the roads, please don’t do anything other than essential travel,” she said. “It’s dangerous. The waters are rising very quickly, as we saw last night. This can put you in danger and require emergency service agencies to intervene and save you.

York also warned that even after the waters recede, roads could remain damaged.

On Tuesday, the state’s regional transportation minister said flooding caused a 200-foot-deep and 130-foot-wide sinkhole to open up next to a railroad track in the Blue Mountains, north west of Sydney.

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