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Australians flee flooding as toll rises to 12, Sydney on alert

  • The death toll rose to 12 in a week-long disaster that has washed cars off the roads and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes.
  • After wreaking havoc on Queensland, the storm front moved south, dumping huge amounts of water and triggering a series of flood alarms in New South Wales.
  • Sydney’s main Warragamba dam, located southwest of the city, had reached capacity and began spilling water in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Floods crashed into several cities on Australia’s east coast as a deadly storm front ran south towards Sydney on Wednesday, where the main dam began to spill water.

The death toll rose to 12 in a week-long disaster that has washed cars off the roads and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes while water spilled over balconies and roofs.

“This is awful. It’s awful. A lost life is too many,” New South Wales Deputy Prime Minister Paul Toole said after confirming a third death in the flood-hit town of Lismore.

After wreaking havoc on Queensland, the storm front moved south, dumping huge amounts of water and triggering a series of floods in New South Wales, including Sydney, Australia’s largest city.

“Today the focus is on Sydney. We expect heavy rainfall over the afternoon into the night and into the morning,” Toole warned at a news conference.

Sydney’s main Warragamba dam, located southwest of the city, had reached capacity and began spilling water in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Toole said.

He told residents in the risk group to flee if told to do so.

“If you get a knock on the door, if you’re asked to go, please go,” Toole said at a news conference.

“We are looking at significant rainfall over the next few days. We do not want to see the images where people were standing on the roofs of their houses did not leave and then had to be rescued.”

In the coastal town of Ballina in New South Wales, about 55 hospital patients were evacuated overnight – hours before high tide from the sea combined with water flowing across the banks of the Richmond River.

A “provisional emergency department” was set up in a Catholic college for emergency cases, regional health officials said.

‘Scary’

An hour inland from the coast, water levels in Lismore were falling, but resident Tom Wolff was preparing to set off to rescue.

“It all feels a little creepy now, that’s how I would describe it,” he said.

The hardest part was trying to navigate around power lines and other hazards in a boat, Wolff said.

“We know the streets of Lismore, but it’s just completely different when you’re 10-12 meters above them,” he said.

“There are signs around town for ’74 floods, but they were underwater.”

At a house, they rescued a sausage dog that had been left at the highest point of the house.

“She must have just trampled water for god knows how long, maybe hours. Her pulse was through the roof when we found her,” he said.

At an airfield in Grafton – where residents saw buildings sunk almost to roof height this week – flying club president Bob King rowed out in a metal boat to check his plane while the smell of fuel hung in the air.

Most of the 25 planes on the field were now underwater, he said.

Flight instructor Peter Clement investigated the damage to his plane – four light aircraft each worth $ 73,000 – sitting half submerged in a hangar where the mud-brown water came up to his waist.

“I do not hope it is a total loss,” he said.

“This is the biggest flood I’ve ever seen and I’ve been here for 20 years.”

Australia has been on the sharp end of climate change.

Droughts, fatal forest fires, bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef and floods have become more common and intense.

Because a warmer atmosphere holds more water, researchers say climate change increases the risk and intensity of flooding from extreme rainfall.


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Australians flee flooding as toll rises to 12, Sydney on alert

Source link Australians flee flooding as toll rises to 12, Sydney on alert

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