Sydney residents were warned of another day of devastating flooding today after large parts of the New South Wales coast were lashed with torrential rain yesterday.
Thousands of people across the Greater Sydney region were under evacuation orders and more than 130 rescues took place as an east-coast low, which is expected to persist until tomorrow, brought widespread rain, thunderstorms and flash flooding to parts of the state.
Authorities said the effects could be more severe than the past three major weather events.
More than 40 evacuation orders and 44 evacuation warnings had been issued to communities in the Greater Sydney region, while about 3,111 requests for assistance had been made to the State Emergency Service (SES).
Residents were told to delay nonessential travel in affected areas, potentially throwing the school holiday plans of thousands into chaos.
“If you were safe in 2021, do not assume you will be safe tonight,” state Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke said yesterday evening, referring to floods that hit the same area last year.
“This is a rapidly evolving situation and we could see areas impacted that we haven’t seen before. It was a long night last night, it’s been a very long day today and tonight will be a long night for our emergency services [and] volunteers,” she said.
SES Commissioner Carlene York said the situation could get “significantly worse” over the course of yesterday evening, affecting “hundreds to thousands” of homes.
“I don’t want to be reporting any loss of life,” she said.
Amid the extreme weather, a man drowned in the Parramatta River after a kayak capsized yesterday afternoon.
Camden City Council Mayor Therese Fedeli spent yesterday afternoon looking at pictures of the rising flood waters on social media.
She said it felt like watching a horror movie unfold.
“I’m devastated ... and you can’t get out there because you’re putting yourself in danger,” Fedeli said.
Low-lying parts of Camden were issued with an evacuation warning early yesterday morning as floodwaters continued to rise. An evacuation center was quickly established at Narellan, 60km southwest of Sydney.
By 2:30pm, almost 20 roads were closed. Moderate flooding was continuing along the Nepean River at Camden Weir, sitting at 12.57m near its peak.
Fedeli said her community was still reeling from two previous flood events this year, leaving the community feeling “numb.”
“When it’s all subsided you get out and the recovery comes in ... we’ve got to do it all again,” she said.
“We have businesses from the first time who just got the place repainted, get on their feet, get all excited with grand openings ... and now they’re back to square one. It’s heartbreaking for them... How much can you take?”
Widespread rainfall in excess of 200mm had been recorded in parts of metropolitan Sydney in the 24 hours to 9am yesterday, with the heaviest falls around Newcastle. All dams were above 100 percent capacity, while the Warragamba Dam was spilling at a rate of 500 gigaliters a day.
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