Severe weather continues to wreak havoc throughout Australia as heavy rains flood communities and homes. As of last night, over 18,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in New South Wales (NSW).
The Australian government declared a natural disaster in NSW. The heavy rains have forced thousands of citizens to evacuate their homes.
Rivers have risen to dangerous levels and continue to flood entire communities, forcing citizens to abandon their homes. Some families were forced to evacuate in the middle of the night due to increasing flood levels.
State premier Gladys Berejiklian spoke about the catastrophe at a news conference last Sunday.
“This is nothing like we’ve seen since the 1960s,” she said. “Yesterday, we were hoping it will only be a one-in-20-year event; now it looks like a one-in-50-year event.”
According to NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott, the NSW and the federal government have signed 16 natural disaster declarations in areas ranging from the central to mid-north coast.
Although no deaths have yet been reported, Elliott warns that fatality is becoming more and more inevitable as time goes on.
“We cannot say it enough: do not put yourself in danger, do not put the agencies that are there to assist you in the event of a flood rescue in danger,” Elliot warned.
The state emergency service has responded to seven thousand calls for assistance since Thursday and has also conducted more than 750 flood rescues. Thousands of emergency workers and volunteers continue to work tirelessly to aid trapped residents.
According to CNN, Berejiklian said that up to 38 places across the state are regarded as natural disaster areas, and 19 evacuation orders have been issued, with potentially more to come.
Thousands of homes are underwater, and roads are flooded to knee-high levels, with some areas starting to resemble “inland seas.” Some places that were devasted by the 2019 and 2020 wildfires are now being affected by the flooding.
“Communities who were battered by the bushfires are now being battered by the floods and a deep drought prior to that,” Berejiklian said. “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.”
Since Thursday, flooded areas span anywhere from 2 inches of rain to a whopping 39 inches. The numbers only keep growing from there. According to CNN, the worst-affected areas have seen rainfall totals up to five times the March monthly average falling in just four days.
The State of the Climate 2020 report from the Bureau of Meteorology and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) stated that heavy rains on the continent are becoming more prominent. The report predicts that the rains will continue to worsen as climate change progresses.