SYDNEY: MARCH. 8 – Flash floods, wild winds and storms are continuing to lash Australia’s east coast, causing hundreds of people to flee their ruined homes and killing at least 13 people in the state of Queensland and seven in New South Wales (NSW).
Police confirmed on Tuesday that the latest fatalities were two people, believed to be a mother and her adult son, whose car was swept into a stormwater canal in western Sydney.
As of Tuesday, the NSW State Emergency Service (SES) had issued evacuation orders for regions stretching from the state’s northern border with Queensland through to its southern border with Victoria, with displaced residents being urged to seek shelter in evacuation centers.
NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York told local media on Tuesday they issued 11 evacuation orders affecting over 60,000 people.
York said many roads remained unpassable with helicopters and boats being used for emergencies and the SES was working with telecommunication providers to restore contact in many cut-off communities.
The relentless deluges have smashed previous records with one of the hardest-hit areas being the rural community of Lismore in northern NSW, where five people drowned as waters rose to 14.5 meters over the weekend.
Distressed Lismore citizens and other flooded communities have complained of having had inadequate support during their crises.
Lismore resident Harley Nelson told Xinhua that the “little country town” was a “low-income area, people don’t have the money or ability to move far away”.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet confronted the issue on radio station 2GB on Tuesday, saying he was “incredibly sorry” for the handling of the disaster.
“I don’t want anyone in our state to ever feel that they are isolated and abandoned,” Perrottet said. “And it’s very clear to me, over the course of this period, that’s how many people felt.”
Meanwhile, Weatherzone meteorologist Tom Hough said the east coast could expect the torrential conditions to continue throughout Tuesday before the massive and intense low-pressure system over the region began to ease on Wednesday.
The forecast for the 24 hours up to Wednesday midnight, is for downpours of more than 100mm to hammer the NSW south coast, while other areas can expect between 25mm to 50mm.