Officials have described the downpour, which has lasted several days already, as a “one-in-a 50-year event”. The heavy rain has caused rivers and dams near Sydney to overflow. There is currently no sign of let up in the bad weather, with officials saying the rain could continue all week.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Sydney radio station 2GB on Monday: “It’s another testing time for our country.”
Emergency Services have been inundated with calls for help and have carried out at least 500 rescues.
A helicopter was used to rescue one stranded family from their flooded home.
The affected areas, which are home to about one third of Australalia’s 25 million population, have suffered extensive damage.
Roads and bridges have been cut off by swollen rivers and livestock have been seen floating through flooded areas.
Authorities also said that the Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s main water source, has been discharging up to 500 gigalitres of water a day – that is equivalent to the volume of Sydney Harbour.
On Monday, officials said they were very concerned about residents living in the low-lying areas north and west of Sydney, the NSW Central Coast and the Hawkesbury valley.
New South Wales was severely affected by last year’s ferocious bush fires, which affected many of the communities currently struggling with the floods.
“It’s the sustained rainfall, the fact that weather event has settled in, it’s not moving on, and also, of course, the capacity of the [Warragamba Dam] spillover and what that might mean.”
Authorities have issued 20 evacuation orders across NSW and declared natural disaster areas in around 38 local zones.
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