Australia’s flooding is intensifying as thousands more flee Sydney’s homes

  • Sydney rains likely to ease soon, move north
  • 50,000 NSW residents have to be evacuated
  • In some places it rains a whole year in three days

SYDNEY, July 5 (Reuters) – Torrential rain continued to batter Australia’s east coast on Tuesday, exacerbating Sydney’s flood crisis, as thousands more residents were ordered to evacuate their homes after rivers quickly rose above danger levels.

About 50,000 residents in New South Wales, most in Sydney’s western suburbs, have been told to either evacuate or have been warned they could receive evacuation orders, up from 30,000 on Monday, authorities said.

“This event is far from over,” New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet told reporters. “Wherever you are, please be careful when driving on our roads. There is still a significant risk of flash flooding.”

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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who returned to Australia on Tuesday after a week-long trip to Europe, said he would tour the affected regions with Perrottet on Wednesday.

The federal government has declared the floods a natural disaster and has helped residents affected by the flood get emergency relief.

The latest wild storm cell, which brought a year’s worth of rain in three days in some areas, is likely to subside in Sydney from Tuesday as the coastal trough moves north, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said.

However, the risk of flooding could remain throughout the week as most river basins are already nearing full capacity ahead of the last deluge. Some regions have received 800mm (31.5 inches) of rain since Saturday, dwarfing Australia’s average annual rainfall of around 500mm (20 inches).

About 90 mm (3.5 inches) of rain could fall over six hours on the state’s north central coast starting Tuesday, reaching as high as 125 mm (5 inches) in some places, BoM said.

Wind speeds of up to 90 km/h (56 miles per hour) are forecast in several flood-affected locations, increasing the risk of downed trees and power lines.

Battling rough seas, rescue workers continued their rescue operation on Tuesday to tow a bulk carrier ship that lost power off the Sydney coast after tow lines snapped during severe weather, officials said.

Windsor, in western Sydney, is experiencing major flooding, the third and worst flooding this year, according to the weather bureau.

Footage on social media showed flooded roads and bridges as rescue workers rescued stranded people from partially submerged vehicles stuck in rising water.

Nigel Myron, a Windsor resident, said he had a dinghy on hand in case he needed to evacuate, although he tries to return to his seat once the waters recede.

“What can you do at the end of the day? It is what it is and we dust ourselves from the ashes and rebuild after the floods have come and gone,” Myron told ABC television.

“SIGNIFICANT ECONOMIC IMPACT”

Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers warned that the economic impact of the floods “will be significant.”

Flooding is likely to have inundated several food-producing regions, and that would affect supplies and raise prices, further straining family budgets already teetering under rising vegetable and fruit prices, Chalmers said.

“There’s no use worrying about it… this inflation problem we have in our economy is going to get worse before it gets better. It has many sources but this (flood) will be one of them,” Chalmers told Sky News.

The Reserve Bank of Australia pointed out that the floods were “affecting some prices too” as it hiked interest rates by a whopping 50 basis points on Tuesday and announced further tightening to tame rising inflation. Continue reading

The Insurance Council of Australia, which declared the floods a “significant event”, urged those affected to make claims for damages, although the full extent of the damage was not yet known.

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Reporting by Renju Jose; Adaptation by David Gregorio and Lincoln Feast.

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