In late summer and early autumn, heavy rain is not uncommon on Australia’s east coast. Sultry, hot days regularly end in downpours. But what is currently going on in a strip almost 900 kilometers long in the east of the country presents the rescue workers with unprecedented challenges.
Days of heavy rain led to the worst flooding in decades and the evacuation of entire towns. Authorities classified the situation in parts of the state of New South Wales on Sunday as a natural disaster and had people escaped from their homes to safety at night.
“Unfortunately, parts of the coast in the middle north are experiencing a situation that only exists once in 100 years,” said the head of government of the most populous Australian state, Gladys Berejiklian, at a press conference.
The rain has not stopped in large parts of the east coast since Thursday. And according to the forecast, significantly more precipitation is to be expected, and the situation can only be expected to ease from Wednesday.
Photos and videos showed how the masses of water drove away cars, cattle and even an entire house. “The water was higher than the door frame. It washed everything away. They have nothing left, everything has been destroyed, ”a man told the newspaper“ The Sydney Morning Herald ”about his parents’ house in Telegraph Point.
More than 750 people were rescued from the floods, the media reported, citing the authorities. However, no deaths have been reported so far. The storm uprooted trees, damaged houses and streets and led to power outages in some places. A prison was also evacuated in Penrith near Sydney.
Hundreds of schools in the state are said to be closed on Monday. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke of a “flood of the century” and promised aid to the affected areas.
The Meteorological Service issued a severe weather warning for large parts of the east coast because of the persistent heavy rain and stormy winds. The hinterland in the west of Sydney was also affected: There the masses of water sloshed over a dam that secures the water supply to the metropolis. In the municipality of Mondrook, a good 200 kilometers further north, an entire house was lifted from its foundation by the floods and washed away, as can be seen on TV pictures.
Since rivers that have overflowed should take longer for the flood to drain even after the rain has ended, the state disaster control is expecting operations “until well after Easter”. This year, Easter Sunday falls on April 4th.