More than 18,000 Australian residents have been evacuated in New South Wales (NSW) due to heavy rains and major flooding in the area which is causing some areas of the nation to resemble “island seas,” according to residents.
The heavy rains have been impacting NSW since last Thursday but the flooding got really severe over the weekend. Images began circulating online of full roads, trees, and houses, completely submerged in water. Up to 38 areas across the state are considered to be natural disaster areas currently and 19 evacuation orders have been issued so far, according to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian who spoke at a news conference this morning.
According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, “much of the flooding has hit the mid-north coast, from Hunter Valley near Sydney to Coffs Harbour, but severe weather warnings have also been extended to include districts on the state’s south coast for Tuesday as the rains are forecast to shift. Heavy rainfall is also developing inland in the north of the state Monday, while in the east, life-threatening extensive flooding and heavy rain continues.”
A severe weather warning has also been issued for Queensland which neighbors NSW. According to Premier Berejiklian, the homes that were devastated by the 2019/2020 wildfires now have to cope with extreme flooding conditions.
“Communities who were battered by the bushfires are now being battered by the floods and a deep drought prior to that. I don’t know anytime in our state’s history where we’ve had these extreme weather conditions in such quick succession in the middle of a pandemic. You’ve been through three or four incidents which are life changing on top of each other. It can make you feel like you are at breaking point.”
Some places have seen close to 40 inches of rain in less than a week, and increased rainfall of about 2-4 inches is expected to hit Sydney this whole week. The worst-affected areas so far have seen rainfall that has been up to five times as strong as what the nation normally expects for this time of year.
Bureau of Meteorology’s Jane Golding said in a news conference that “the huge rainfalls have been driven by two weather systems colliding. A slow moving coastal trough and the approach of another system coming through from the west is pumping down tropical moisture into the state, which is then being whipped up by strong easterly winds.”
“With this approach of this new system coming from the west which is approaching today, we’re expecting this heavy rain to fall in areas that haven’t seen as much rain over the last few days, and we’re expecting the flood risk to develop in those areas as well,” she explained.
Justin Robinson is the Bureau of Meteorology’s national flood manager, who recently spoke to the press about his extensive amount of experience with flooding in Australia.
“I’ve been a flood forecaster for 20 years and this is probably the worst flooding I’ve ever seen. We’ve got a flood watch that covers all the way from the Queensland border down to the Victoria border, along all those coastal rivers.”
The NSW emergency service networks have said many of the areas across the state “resemble an island sea,” and they’re already preparing for the massive clean up effort that will need to be done once all the rain finally subsides. Premier Berejiklian claimed she has spoken with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison about calling in the military for backup when it comes time to clean and recover.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.