Torrential rains continued to lash Australia’s east coast on Tuesday, escalating the flood catastrophe in Sydney as thousands more people were told to evacuate after rivers quickly climbed over danger thresholds.
Authorities in New South Wales have instructed around 50,000 individuals, the most of whom live in Sydney’s western suburbs, to leave or have been warned that they may get evacuation orders, up from 30,000 on Monday.
“This event is far from over,” New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet told reporters. “Wherever you are, please be careful when you’re driving on our roads. There are still substantial risks for flash flooding.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who returned to Australia on Tuesday after a week-long vacation to Europe, said he and Perrottet will visit the affected areas on Wednesday.
The federal government labeled the floods a natural disaster, allowing flood-affected citizens to receive emergency aid.
The latest violent storm cell, which dumped a year’s worth of rain in some parts in three days, is expected to diminish in Sydney starting Tuesday as the coastal trough moves north, according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM).
However, the danger of flooding may persist throughout the week, since most river catchments were already near capacity before to the new downpour. Since Saturday, some areas have gotten 800mm (31.5 inches) of rain, exceeding Australia’s annual normal rainfall of roughly 500mm (20 inches).
From Tuesday, around 90mm (3.5 inches) of rain might fall in six hours throughout the state’s mid-north coast, reaching up to 125mm (5 inches) in some spots, according to the BoM.
Winds of up to 90 km/h (56 miles per hour) are also expected in numerous flood-affected areas, increasing the danger of fallen trees and power lines.
Despite the strong waves, emergency services began their rescue mission on Tuesday to pull a bulk carrier ship that lost power off the coast of Sydney after tow lines snapped in the storm, according to authorities.
Social media footage showed swamped highways and bridges, as emergency workers rescued individuals trapped in partly submerged automobiles that were caught in rising waves.
Nigel Myron, a Windsor resident, said he has an inflatable boat ready in case he has to flee, but he plans to return to his home once the floods recede.
“What can you do at the end of the day? It is what it is, and once the floods have passed, we pick ourselves up from the ashes and rebuild “Myron said on ABC television.