Aussie state endures heavy rain, flooding in “one-in-50-year event”

AUSSIE, Mar 21 4:46pm (XINHUA/APP): Heavy rainfall continued to cause dangerous flooding across the Australian State of New South Wales (NSW) on Sunday, in what officials described as a “one-in-50-year event.”

Residents in Sydney’s northwest and several areas of the states north were forced to evacuate overnight, as rivers broke their banks following days of rainfall. As of Sunday, 16 local government areas were designated as national disaster zones, to help with coordinating relief assistance.

Parts of NSW including Sydney received well over 100 mm of rain in the 24-hours-to Sunday morning, with conditions expected to continue throughout much of the week. “Whilst we don’t think things will worsen on the mid-north coast, definitely conditions will continue, so the rainfall will continue across the parts that have already been affected,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

Sydney’s main water source, Warragamba Dam overflowed for the first time in over a decade on Saturday afternoon, increasing pressure on areas beneath the catchment area. “Our concern now is focused on the Hawkesbury valley and also western Sydney,” Berejiklian said.

The NSW State Emergency Service had responded to over 6,700 calls for assistance since the weather event began and conducted over 600 flood water rescues. “It’s difficult weather conditions which means that getting helicopters in the air is not a good idea so we’re relying on ground crews,” Berejiklian said.

NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott warned that if people continued to disregard warnings about floodwaters and take unnecessary risks, the chances of someone losing their life increased.

“Statistically, we are moving closer and closer to the inevitable fatality,” Elliot said. Rain was expected to continue in NSW until next Thursday, with another weather front moving in from the northwest expected to impact inland areas.

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