Australia floods: A week-long downpour has pushed the reservoirs and rivers beyond their capacity, creating chaos across an area of 800 km (500 miles) long.
Emergency services ordered Sydney residents to be prepared to leave on Wednesday, as torrential rains swept across Australia’s east coast, drowning towns in floodwaters which killed 13 people and put hundreds of thousands of people at risk.
A week-long rainstorm has pushed reservoirs and rivers beyond their capacity, creating chaos across an area of 800 kilometers (500 miles) long.
From Brisbane From Brisbane to Sydney More than 30 evacuation alerts are in place , and several dams are overflowing. There are several dams near Sydney at risk of overflowing.
The residents who have been frightened have taken refuge in more elevated ground in temporary evacuation centers or climbing into attics or rooftops to pray for help by helicopter or boat.
In the city that has been hit hard, Lismore, Lucy Wise said that the flooding was much faster and were much more severe than she had expected.
“The rain would not stop and the water just kept rising at a rapid pace” she explained to AFP.
Rain Just Won’t Stop Half A Million Face Flood Evacuation In Australia
She huddled in her home in the dark as the water rose throughout the night, before reaching for her two-year-old son asleep and putting him in a lifejacket before climbing into the roof of their home for protection.
“We were sitting there still, in silence and the rain started coming down. I’ve never experienced such a heavy rain before in my entire life.”
Outside, neighbors observed as the house sank under the water.
“It was for a couple of hours in which I could not move. I couldn’t breathe at all. I just took each breath at one time.”
Wise as well as her entire family were saved by a boat, however authorities claim that the flooding has already caused the deaths of 13 other people in Queensland as well as New South Wales.
The attention has now turned to Sydney the largest city in Australia and home to over five million residents.
The Warragamba Dam, which supplies 80 percent of the city’s drinking water, began to flood at the beginning of Wednesday.
A number of western suburbs are currently under massive evacuation and flood warnings. The authorities have urged residents throughout the city to shut down any “non-essential transportation.”
“There are several hundred thousand affected by the alerts we’re putting out right now,” said State Emergency Services Commissioner Carlene York.
An La Nina weather pattern has caused Sydney to experience the highest rainfall in the past thirty years.
Meteorologist Ben Domensino of @Weatherzone described the current storm system as an “atmospheric river” with the “long expanse of airborne moisture moving towards one particular direction.”
Scientists believe that climate changes are making the floods bushfires, cyclones, bushfires as well as droughts, more common and extreme.
“Despite years of warnings from scientists regarding the effects of climate change Australia has not been prepared for the extreme weather is currently causing in the form of the floods that are currently sweeping across the country,” said environmental expert Hilary Bambrick of the Queensland University of Technology.
Australia is in the forefront of extreme changes in the climate. The temperature is rising faster within Australia than the average global temperature and warmer temperatures mean that the atmosphere is able to hold more moisture, which means that rainfall events are getting more extreme.”
Long route back
As the cleanup gets underway in the northern regions that were the first to be hit by floods, many, such as Mullumbimby local Casey Wellan anticipate the possibility of a “long recuperation” which could “take many years.”
Whelan left his home when the floods grew worse however, as the levels stabilized, he made use of an inflatable kayak which been floating along and a broomstick for an row to return. He discovered the kayak “just damaged.”
The water rose to the level of the kitchen’s bench, the furnishings were submerged.
“Lots of people living in my street cannot get flood insurance. Some insurance companies will quote the amount of $30,000 (US$22,000) annually… they’ll end up being destroyed. They’ll have no means for rebuilding,” the insurance agent said.