Thousands of residents of Australia’s east coast left their homes on Wednesday as the floods ravaged the region. The heavy rains are now moving north, having previously flooded Sydney.
Authorities in New South Wales have warned of new flooding north of Australia’s largest city, in the Hunter region known for its vineyards. And flooding can still occur in certain parts of Sydney, despite less rainfall in the city. “We are a long way from over this,” said Dominc Perrottet, the state’s prime minister.
Since the floods started almost a week ago, 85,000 people have been told to leave their homes immediately, or to prepare for a quick departure, so as not to get blocked by the rising water.
All over Sydney’s western fringe, rivers have overflowed, turning entire areas into lakes. Muddy water enters the houses, and roads and bridges are cut off. Meteorologists said Sydney received as much rain in four days as it normally does in London in an entire year.
In 23 flooded areas of New South Wales, the federal government has issued contingency plans, freeing up resources to help affected residents. As of Thursday, those affected would receive 1,000 Australian dollars per adult and 400 dollars (265 euros) for children, for emergency aid.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese arrived on the scene in the affected zone on Wednesday, promising to look for long-term solutions. Over the past 18 months, there have been frequent heavy floods on the east coast of Australia. In his election campaign, Albanian, who has been in power since May, promised to tackle the climate crisis.
The government of his predecessor Scott Morrison has been criticized for being too passive about climate problems.