Australian authorities were preparing to evacuate thousands of more people on Monday from flood-affected suburbs on the western fringes of Sydney, the country’s biggest city, with another day of heavy rain triggering the worst floods in 60 years.
Rivers across the state of New South Wales (NSW) have burst their banks amid three days of unrelenting rain.
The Warragamba Dam – the source of much of Sydney’s drinking water – overflowed on Saturday prompting evacuations, school closures and warnings of worse to come.
“Flooding is likely to be higher than any floods since Nov 1961,” NSW emergency services said in a tweet late on Sunday.
Authorities expect the wild weather to continue until Wednesday.
The fast-moving floodwaters have inundated houses, swept away vehicles and farm animals, and submerged roads, bridges, houses and farms, television and social media footage showed.The worst affected areas so far have been in the state’s north, where State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the region was experiencing a “one-in-100-year event”.
“More than 18,000 people have been told to leave their homes. And floodwaters are erratic at the moment. They are changing quickly,” she said. “So, authorities are calling on people to heed instructions and saying that if you need to evacuate, do so quickly. But for some, authorities are warning it is too late and if floodwaters are cutting off areas, you should not be going through them.”
Nearly 2,000 people have already been evacuated from low lying areas, according to the NSW emergency services. More than 200 schools have been closed. No casualties have been reported so far.