Sydney Flooding Kills One, Forces Thousands From Their Homes
At least one person has died and around 50,000 were warned they might need to flee their homes as Sydney, Australia, is experiencing its fourth major flood emergency in 16 to 18 months.
The flooding was caused by a storm that brought a year’s worth of rainfall to some areas in just three days, as Reuters reported.
“Rainfall now comes in short, sharp bursts rather than long gentle periods, so we’re overwhelmed,” Greg Mullins, the former fire and rescue commissioner of New South Wales (NSW) — the Australian state where Sydney is located — told The Guardian. “This is climate change in action.”
In addition to the “intensity” of the rainfall, Mullins said the “frequency” of extreme weather events was increasing because of the climate crisis. The Sydney area experienced massive flooding in March of 2021 and then again in March and April of this year. For some Sydney-area residents, this has taken a personal toll. Terry, a resident of Lansvale in southwest Sydney, recounted to Australian Broadcasting Corp. television all the times that his home had flooded, as AP News reported.
“Well, it happened in 1986 and ’88, then it didn’t happen for 28 years and, so, 2016 and 2020 and now it’s happened four times this year,” Terry said.
Darren Osmotherly, who owns the Paradise Café that caters to disabled houseboat owners, also told CNN that he was moving furniture out of the water’s reach for the fourth time in 18 months.
“Just as you’re recovering from the last disaster another one comes along and knocks you off your feet,” Mullins told The Guardian.
The latest flooding comes on the heels of a storm that dumped around 1.6 feet of rain over parts of the Sydney area in a two-day period, as CNN reported. This caused several dams to overflow, including the Warragamba Dam, which is the largest in any Australian city.
As of Tuesday, around 50,000 people in New South Wales had been told that they either had to evacuate their homes or had to be ready to do so, according to Reuters.
At least one person has died in the deluge, as a man was rescued from the flood waters Sunday but could not be revived, The Independent reported.
“We saw a helicopter out there with essentially a team of police jumping into the water, trying to save someone,” witness Luke Touma told 7NEWS, according to The Independent.
While the storm itself is expected to move away from Sydney Tuesday, authorities say the flood risk remains.
“This event is far from over,” New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet told reporters, according to Reuters. “Wherever you are, please be careful when you’re driving on our roads. There are still substantial risks for flash flooding.”
And, once the waters do recede, people will have to pick up the pieces yet again. “Everybody is in shock. Everybody is traumatised,” Linda Strickland, who co-founded a local charity in the hard-hit town of Windsor, northwest of Sydney, told BBC News. “The community is still recovering from the last flood and the one before. Some people are still recovering from the fires,” she added.