Sydney braces for more heavy rains and flash floods as thousands flee homes
SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Fresh evacuation orders were issued for thousands of Sydney residents on Monday (July 4) after relentless rain flooded several suburbs in Australia's largest city, with officials warning of more wild weather over the next 12 hours.
“This is a life-threatening emergency situation,” Ms Stephanie Cooke, emergency services minister for the state of New South Wales, told reporters.
An intense low-pressure system off Australia's east coast is forecast to bring more heavy rain on Monday across the southern regions of New South Wales, even as several places in the state were hit with about a month's rain over the weekend.
About 100mm of rain could fall in the next 24 hours over a wide swathe of regions in New South Wales, from Newcastle to the south of Sydney, a distance of more than 300km, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said.
"We are expecting the rain to pick up again from this afternoon," Mr Jonathan How, a BOM meteorologist said.
More than 200mm of rain has fallen over many areas, with some hit by as much as 350mm since Saturday.
The wild weather could trigger flash floods and landslides, with river catchments already near full capacity after the La Nina phenomenon, typically associated with increased rainfall, dominated Australia's east coast over the last two years.
Australia has been at the sharp end of climate change, with droughts, deadly bushfires, bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef and floods becoming more common and intense as global weather patterns change.
With more wild weather expected in the coming days, Ms Cooke described the floods as a “rapidly evolving situation” and warned that people should be “prepared to evacuate at short notice”.
Warragamba Dam, Sydney's major water supply, began to overflow well ahead of projections on Sunday.
About 70 evacuation orders are in place in Sydney as the authorities urged people to leave their homes before getting stranded without power.
As tens of thousands face evacuation, frustration swelled in North Richmond and Windsor in Sydney's west after floods submerged homes there for the third time this year.
"We are over it. We are so over it. (This) is a bit much for us," a flood-hit Windsor resident told ABC television.
In Camden, a south-western suburb of Sydney that is home to more than 100,000 people, local shops and a petrol station were inundated by floodwaters.
Ms Cooke asked those living along a 500km stretch of Australia’s east coast, both north and south of Sydney, to consider cancelling their school holiday travel plans because of the weather.
Emergency services conducted 29 flood rescues and were called out more than 1,400 times in the previous 24 hours, she said.
Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt has offered more troops and said on Monday that the government has activated the satellite emergency management system to help with the flood relief efforts.