Sydney floods force tens of thousands of residents from their homes

Sydney floods force tens of thousands of residents from their homes

Rivers swollen after four days of heavy rains in the Sydney area have submerged homes and roads. Tens of thousands of residents of Australia’s most populous city were forced to leave their homes on Tuesday, July 5. Authorities in New South Wales have called on some 50,000 people to evacuate and 28,000 to prepare to do the same, authorities said.

People paddle through a flooded street in Windsor, a suburb of Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, July 5, 2022. Hundreds of homes have been flooded in and around Australia's biggest city.

The emergency services, aided by a hundred soldiers, carried out 142 rescues in twenty-four hours. Australia is particularly affected by climate change, regularly hit by droughts, devastating forest fires, not to mention repeated and increasingly intense floods.

State of natural disaster declared in 23 regions

These heavy rains fell on an already partly soggy ground, which caused a rapid rise in water levels, especially in the western suburbs of Sydney. “It was so sudden”told Agence France-Presse (AFP) Gordon Lee, a resident of Shanes Park, a western suburb of Sydney, some areas of which were flooded on the night of Monday July 4 to Tuesday July 5. “We didn’t even have time to take anything, we just took our dogs and went to higher ground in the street”he added.

Mr. Lee, who was a farmer, said when he retired about 15 years ago the floods were less frequent. “I see younger people moving in to try to farm here (…) but they are losing everything”.

According to the weather services, the weather front will head north along the coast. “Sydney is not out of danger, now is not the time to slack off”said Carlene York, head of the state’s emergency services.

A house is flooded in Windsor, a suburb of Sydney, Australia.  The country is particularly affected by climate change.

New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet called on people to comply with evacuation orders, saying “This event is far from over”. The federal government has declared a state of natural disaster in 23 flooded regions of New South Wales, thus releasing aid for the affected inhabitants.

Four floods in eighteen months

Many residents affected by this meteorological event had already been victims of successive floods on the east coast which, in 2021 and March, killed more than twenty people. This is the case of Alan Dalrymple, 62, a resident of Windsor, in the western suburbs of Sydney, whose house has been flooded four times in eighteen months. He admits to being “a bit pissed off”.

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“There’s not much you can do about it (…). You just smile and carry on. No need to complain because no one wants to hear people complaining, that’s for sure”he told AFP.

A resident attempts to drive across the Nepean, which overflowed following torrential rains that flooded western Sydney, July 5, 2022.

Windsor Police Station staff have been evacuated, police say. Most of the affected areas are downstream of the Warragamba Dam, west of Sydney, which overflowed. It provides most of the city’s drinking water.

“The people of the east coast are going through a very difficult time right now”recognized the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese. “My thoughts are with the people who have suffered over and over and over again, many of these communities have also been affected by the wildfires”, he told reporters. He called on the people “to stay safe and vigilant”.

Rainfall has eased in parts of Sydney but flood warnings are likely to persist for several days, said Jane Golding of the state meteorology office.

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The World with AFP

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