RICHMOND, Australia — Hundreds of homes have been inundated in and around Australia’s largest city in a flood emergency that was causing trouble for 50,000 people, officials said Tuesday.
Ashley Sullivan, State Emergency Service manager said 100 rescues were made overnight for people stuck in their cars in flood roads or homes that had been inundated in Sydney.
Floods caused by torrential rain for days have led to dams overflowing and waterways breaking their banks. This has brought a fourth flood emergency to areas of the city that is home to 5 million people.
According to Dominic Perrottet, Premier of New South Wales, 50,000 residents were given evacuation orders and warned to leave their homes. This is an increase from the 32,000 who received them Monday.
“This event is far from over. Please don’t be complacent, wherever you are. Please be careful when you’re driving on our roads. There is still substantial risk for flash flooding across our state,” Perrottet said.
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Overnight, the New South Wales state government declared disaster in 23 areas of local government. Federal financial aid was activated for flood victims.
Steph Cooke, Minister for Emergency Services, praised the skills and dedication of rescue teams in preventing death or serious injuries by the fourth day after the flood emergency.
Parts of southern Sydney had been lashed by more than 20 centimeters (nearly 8 inches) of rain in 24 hours, more than 17% of the city’s annual average, Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Jonathan How said.
Severe weather warnings of heavy rain remained in place across Sydney’s eastern suburbs on Tuesday. Warnings were also issued northwards, to include the Hunter Valley and the coast.
The worst flooding was along the Hawkesbury-Nepean river system along Sydney’s northern and western fringes.
“The good news is that by tomorrow afternoon, it is looking to be mostly dry but, of course, we are reminding people that these floodwaters will remain very high well after the rain has stopped,” How said.
“There was plenty of rain fall overnight and that is actually seeing some rivers peak for a second time. So you’ve got to take many days, if not a week, to start to see these floodwaters start to recede,” How added.
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Residents in Lansvale (southwest Sydney) were shocked at the rapidity with which the area was inundated, and by the increasing frequency of flooding.
“Well, it happened in 1986 and ’88, then it didn’t happen for 28 years and, so, 2016 and 2020 and now it’s happened four times this year,” a Lansvale local identified only as Terry told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television of his home being flooded.
Plan to bring a 21-member crewed ship in distress to open sea was thwarted due to wild weather conditions and the mountainous terrain along the New South Wales coast.
On Monday morning the ship was left in Wollongong south of Sydney and lost its power. It could be grounded by heavy swells up to 8 meters (26 feet) and winds gusting at 30 knots (30 mph) and against rocks.
Philip Holliday, chief executive of Port Authority said that an attempt to pull the ship into open sea with tugboats failed when a line snapped late Monday in an 11-meter (36.5-foot) storm.
Two anchors and two tugboats helped the ship maintain its position Tuesday, further away from the coast that Monday. The original plan had been for the ship’s crew to repair their engine at sea. Holliday explained that the plan changed to move the ship from Sydney to Sydney as soon as weather and sea conditions were calm.
“We’re in a better position than we were yesterday,” Holliday said. “We’re in relative safety.”
Perrottet described the tugboat crews’ response on Monday to save the ship as “heroic.”
“I want to thank those men and women who were on those crews last night for the heroic work they did in incredibly treacherous conditions. To have an 11-meter (36-foot) swell, to be undergoing and carrying out that work is incredibly impressive,” Perrottet said.
— McGuirk was based in Canberra, Australia.
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