| 22 February 2024, Thursday |

Frustration over slow flood relief in Australia, as Sydney braces for more rain

Many flood-affected communities in Australia’s east grew increasingly frustrated with sluggish relief and recovery operations, as Sydney braced for further heavy rains in the coming days, which might cause flash floods and thwart present clean-up efforts.

Thousands of people have been forced to abandon their homes in Queensland and New South Wales (NSW), where torrential rains have blocked off towns and swept away farms, cattle, and highways since late last month.

After a man was discovered dead in a car carried away in floods in Queensland on Sunday, the death toll from the deluge climbed to 18.

On Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told radio station 2GB, “These are catastrophic, horrific floods.” “These are floods unlike anything we’ve ever seen in living memory, or even before that.” As a result, I understand the huge dissatisfaction (we) are witnessing.”

Morrison, who is lagging in polls ahead of a federal election scheduled in May, said that more defense force members are being sent to flood-affected areas right away to spearhead the recovery.

Over the weekend, residents assessed the damage while attempting to clean trash and sludge after water levels in some areas decreased.

In other places, power and internet are still out while emergency crews work to clear roads so that crucial supplies can be delivered.

On a tour of the flood-affected areas, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the rehabilitation might take years, with 2,000 homes deemed unusable.

“The stories we’ve heard, the sense of abandonment that many individuals felt in terrible situations is awful, and we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

The Australian Insurance Council assessed the current cost of flood claims at A$1.3 billion ($963 million) on Monday. It said insurers have received 86,703 claims so far, up 28% from Friday’s figures.

Although the rains have subsided in recent days, the meteorological service issued a’severe warning’ for areas of NSW, including the state capital Sydney, on Monday as a second intense low-pressure system formed off the east coast in as many weeks.

Rainfall of up to 120 mm (5 inches) is expected in Sydney on Monday and 150 mm on Tuesday, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Several suburbs have already received more than twice the average rainfall for March, which was roughly 140 mm.

The La Nina weather trend has dominated Australia’s east coast summer, which is normally associated with heavier rainfall, with several rivers already nearing capacity before the latest downpour.

During a media briefing, BoM meteorologist Dean Narramore said, “This additional rainfall on already saturated soils, catchments, and flooded rivers, creeks, and streams is giving us an increasing amount of concern.” “There is a good chance of catastrophic flooding on a number of rivers.”

  • Reuters