Sydney, Australia, March 22 (efe-epa).- The worst flooding in Australia in more than five decades has led to the evacuation of some 18,000 people along the east coast of the country in recent days, authorities announced Monday.
Of the total evacuees, 15,000 are from the north-central coast of the state of New South Wales, where 900 millimeters of rain have fallen in the last six days, while another 3,000 are residents of neighborhoods in western Sydney, according to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
Many of the areas flooded in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic also suffered the impact of the 2019-20 bushfires, considered some of the worst and longest in Australian history, as well as a severe and devastating drought.
“I don’t know any time in our state’s history where we have had these extreme weather conditions in such quick succession in the middle of a pandemic,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
“We brace for a very difficult week,” she added, noting that so far there have been no deaths or serious injuries.
This weekend the Australian authorities declared 38 towns, including several neighborhoods in western Sydney, as natural disaster areas as a result of these torrential rains that have flooded roads and houses.
The floods have also disrupted urban transport, forced the closure of some 200 schools and isolated some towns on the north-central coast of New South Wales, and the authorities haven’t ruled out the deployment of the army if the state governments require it.
“We’ve had on standby helicopters and others to support the search and rescue,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told 2GB radio station, adding that his government will give financial aid to those affected by the catastrophe.
In NSW’s neighboring Queensland state, there are also torrential rains and floods are feared this week.
The extent of the flood damage in NSW is not yet known, but the Insurance Council of Australia’s executive director Andrew Hall said its affiliated companies have received 5,000 claims, according to national broadcaster ABC. EFE-EPA