Torrential rain floods New South Wales, Australia
Ten million Australians are under severe weather warnings as the worst flooding to hit New South Wales (NSW) in 50 years devastates low-lying areas, closes hundreds of schools and has forced a further round of evacuations on Tuesday, 23 March 2021. Strong rains continued into Tuesday, with the Bureau of Meteorology warning of a further 300mm deluge to hit affected areas before the weather system finally eases in the evening in NSW and on Wednesday morning in Queensland. The NSW State Emergency Service has responded to 9 700 calls for help across the state's eastern coast and conducted 870 flood rescues.
Already, 34 NSW councils have declared natural disaster zones, with the powerful storm that lashed the state's north coast and western Sydney now spreading to the Illawarra region on the south coast, where 100 to 200mm of rain were forecast across the region on Tuesday, peaking at 300mm in some parts.
Northwest of Sydney, around 200 residents were ordered to evacuate homes immediately on Tuesday morning as major flooding occurred along the Colo River in the Hawkesbury region. 'From 8am ... you should be ready to be evacuated from your home via helicopter or boat,' the SES said.
Hundreds of fire fighters from Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) have worked around the clock to rescue and assist residents caught up in the treacherous conditions battering the coast of NSW this weekend, providing critical assistance to the NSW State Emergency Service (SES) and other emergency services agencies.
In what has been a significant weather event for the state, FRNSW has mobilised over 22 trucks, 100 fire fighters and four flood water strike teams to assist with the crisis as it continues to unfold. Further fire fighting strike teams have been formed up in order to provide additional assistance if required.
Since lunchtime on Friday, 19 Marc 2021, FRNSW flood water rescue units have performed in excess of 200 rescues, while land based rescuers have performed over 100. Fire fighters have responded to calls for assistance, assisted with large scale evacuations and responded to people stranded in rising flood waters right across the Mid North Coast. Additional crews have been flown in to assist from other areas around the state and crews continue to work around the clock.
FRNSW Commissioner Paul Baxter said the strike teams have the ability to respond to a wide range of emergencies and will continue to assist the NSW SES with the ongoing situation, for as long as is required. “Whilst the NSW SES is the combat agency for flood rescue in NSW, FRNSW provides them with support in situations of extreme weather, where there is high demand,” Commissioner Baxter said. “With the rapid onset of extreme weather that we’ve seen on the coast of NSW this weekend, we have deployed numerous resources to the flood stricken areas to provide our assistance and to ensure we are prepared for anything that may eventuate.”
The Australian Defence Force will provide two search and rescue helicopters operating out of the NSW south coast for 24 hour operations. 'The search and rescue choppers will be able to work through night and day and supporting personnel will be made available to make this happen,' emergency management minister David Littleproud said. 'Both will have the capability to winch and recover in the dangerous flood areas. They will operate out of Nowra and Bega on the New South Wales south coast.'
The widespread devastation in the Hawkesbury has also caused one of main roads out of Sydney to close indefinitely due to a landslide.
Many motorists were stranded after the Bells Line of Road, which links Richmond to the in the Blue Mountains closed in both directions due to extensive damage on Monday afternoon. “Engineers have determined that the latest landslide has damaged the road to such an extent that there is a high risk of the whole mountainside and roadway collapsing into the gorge below.”
Sources: Fire and Rescue New South Wales, Daily Mail