Authorities in Australia issued further orders for people to leave their homes after heavy rain caused flash floods in the country’s largest metropolis, with officials warning that the situation might become worse and 500,000 people facing evacuation orders.
Over the past week, a catastrophic weather system has pounded Australia’s east coast, cutting off entire towns and submerging hundreds of houses and farmland as it proceeded south from Queensland state.
“We fear things will get worse in the state before they get better,” New South Wales state Premier Dominic Perrottet told reporters, adding that evacuation orders and warnings would touch half a million people.
According to Perrottet, the floods will be greater in some areas than the floods of last year, which were the worst in 60 years.
The second year of floods has occurred while Australia’s east coast has been dominated by the La Nina weather trend, which is normally associated with greater rainfall. Rivers and catchments were already near full before the recent downpour, which came after weeks of persistent rain.
As rains eased, authorities indicated they didn’t expect as much water to overflow from the Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s main water supply, as they had feared.
Over the last 24 hours, some Sydney suburbs have received more than 100 mm (4 inches) of rain, with the meteorological service predicting up to 150 mm in some areas on Thursday.
The average rainfall in Sydney, which has a population of almost 5 million people, is roughly 140 mm in March.
Although satellite photographs show the storm moving away from Sydney, numerous suburbs in the city’s west continue to be flooded. On Wednesday, tens of thousands of inhabitants were asked to leave in the middle of the night.
As the floodwaters retreated in Lismore, the town in north New South Wales that was hardest damaged, business owners began to assess the damage.
“We’ve been destroyed, and my heart hurts. I’m not sure when the roads will be clean… what a week it’s been!, “In a Facebook post, the owner of a fabric store said and showed photographs of a mound of debris in her flood-damaged store.
Meanwhile, heavy rain and strong winds have returned to southeast Queensland, which has been hit by record flooding in recent days, complicating relief operations. The weather office predicts “very significant rain” on Thursday.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters, “Conditions are likely to remain unpredictable for the next 24 to 48 hours.” “I’ve never seen such a combination of storms and floods thrown at us all at once.”