Flooding in Australia: Sydney ordered thousands to evacuate

Media reported that a man swept away by flooding in the city’s northwest was rescued by an ambulance, and television footage shows vehicles trying to cross swampy streets, downed power lines and trees, and debris floating in rivers.

Nursing home residents were evacuated overnight as ambulance crews urged the port city’s 5 million people to avoid unnecessary travel and prepare for a possible evacuation.

“This is a very dynamic situation. These events are moving at an exceptionally fast pace,” Acting NSW Commissioner of Emergency Services Daniel Austin said at a media briefing. According to him, “exceptionally abrupt, short torrents of rain” cause flash floods almost every hour.

Sydney has received 1,227 millimeters (48 inches) of rain this year, more than its average annual rainfall of 1,213 millimetres. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, it could rise to 180 millimeters in many coastal cities over the next 24 hours.

Official data showed Bondi’s tourist hotspot recorded about 170 millimeters in the 24 hours to 9 a.m. Thursday.

Thousands of people were ordered to evacuate their homes while businesses cleared emergency supplies to reduce their losses.

“All hands on deck to try and salvage some furniture…so we were very busy lifting stuff…moving stuff around, turning off filters and electricity and stuff like that.” —Nicola Gilfillan, owner of Southwest Cafe. Sidney told ABC about this.

An overflow from a fuel pit at a site owned by the Ampol refinery in south Sydney caused oil to mix with flood waters, but emergency crews said the spill was contained and there was no danger in the area.

The Met Office said a severe weather warning has extended over 600 kilometers (373 miles) along the south coast of New South Wales, but conditions are expected to improve from Thursday evening.

During the summer, the east coast of Australia is dominated by the La Niña weather phenomenon for the second year in a row, usually associated with increased rainfall, with most rivers already busy before the last flood. Authorities said the Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s main source of water supply, would burst its banks on Friday.

Three intense weather systems have hit eastern Australia in six weeks, with parts of northern New South Wales and southeast Queensland experiencing record-breaking rainfall and Sydney recording its wettest March on record.

It is also widely believed that climate change is a contributing factor to severe weather, raising questions about how prepared Australia is.

Several cities in northern New South Wales are still scrambling to clean up trash after two devastating floods in March, but the latest weather event has devastated the state’s central and south coasts.

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