Australia floods worsen as thousands more Sydney residents evacuate

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SYDNEY: Hundreds of homes have been submerged in and around Australia’s largest city, officials said Tuesday, in a flood emergency that has affected 50,000 people.

State Emergency Service manager Ashley Sullivan stated that emergency response teams completed 100 rescues overnight of persons trapped in cars on flooded roadways or in waterlogged residences in the Sydney area.

Days of torrential rain have prompted dams to overflow and waterways to break their banks, ushering in the city’s fourth flood emergency in 16 months.

The state government of New South Wales declared a disaster over 23 local government areas overnight, triggering federal government financial help for flood victims.

New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet said 50,000 people were affected by evacuation orders and warnings to prepare to leave their homes, up from 32,000 on Monday.

“This is far from over.” Please, wherever you are, do not become complacent. Please be cautious when driving on our roads. “There is still a significant risk of flash flooding throughout our state,” Perrottet added.

Situation Services Minister Steph Cooke complimented rescue teams’ competence and dedication for preventing any deaths or major injuries by the fourth day of the flooding emergency.

Southern Sydney had received more than 20 centimeters (almost 8 inches) of rain in 24 hours, accounting for more than 17 percent of the city’s annual normal, according to Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Jonathan How.

On Tuesday, severe weather warnings for heavy rain remained in effect across Sydney’s eastern suburbs. The advisories were also issued north of Sydney, along the coast, and into the Hunter Valley.

The biggest flooding occurred along the Hawkesbury-Nepean river system, which runs through Sydney’s northern and western outskirts.

“The good news is that it appears to be mostly dry by tomorrow afternoon,” How added. “Of course, we remind people that these floodwaters will remain very high long after the rain has ceased.”

“There was a lot of rain overnight, which caused some rivers to peak for the second time.” So it’s going to take several days, if not a week, to see these floodwaters begin to recede,” How added.

The extreme weather and high seas off the coast of New South Wales hampered preparations to tow a cargo ship with 21 crew members to safety at sea.

After leaving port in Wollongong, south of Sydney, on Monday morning, the ship lost power and faced being grounded by 8-meter (26-foot) swells and winds of 30 knots (34 mph) against cliffs.

A tugboat attempt to tow the ship into open water stopped late Monday when a towline snapped in an 11-meter (36-foot) swell, according to Port Authority CEO Philip Holliday.

With two anchors and the assistance of two tugboats, the ship remained farther off the coast on Tuesday than it had been on Monday. The revised plan was to pull the ship to Sydney when the weather and sea conditions improved, which might happen as early as Wednesday, according to Holliday. The ship’s crew had originally planned to fix their engine at sea.

“We’re in a better situation than we were the day before,” Holliday remarked. “We’re in quite safe territory.”

Perrottet called the tugboat crews’ efforts to save the ship on Monday “heroic.”

Source: AP

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