Australia floods: Thousands evacuated as downpours worsen
March 22, 2021 1:25 pm
Thousands of Australians have been evacuated or rescued from flooding across Sydney as heavy rain continues to batter the east coast.
Days of torrential downpours have caused rivers and dams to overflow across New South Wales (NSW) and south-east Queensland, damaging large areas.
Officials say the “one-in-a 50-year event” may continue all week and have urged the public to exercise caution.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has offered funds for those forced to flee.
“It’s another testing time for our country,” he told Sydney radio station 2GB on Monday.
The affected areas are home to about a third of Australia’s 25 million people.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said many of the communities “being battered by the floods” had been affected by bushfires and drought the previous summer.
“I don’t know any time in state history where we have had these extreme weather conditions in such quick succession in the middle of a pandemic,” she said.
Emergency services have conducted at least 500 rescues, including winching people from cars. One stranded family was lifted from their flooded home by a helicopter.
Responders also saved a family with an infant from flooding in their home in Sydney’s west.
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has said the rainfall – up to 1,000mm in some areas – has been “extraordinary” in the recent days.
On Monday, authorities were most concerned about residents in the low-lying areas north and west of Sydney, the NSW central coast and the Hawkesbury valley, as the weather system swept inland.