Thousands of people have been told to evacuate their homes amid torrential rain and flash flooding in Australia's largest city, Sydney. In contrast, all roads have been curtailed after 18 evacuation orders were carried out in western Sydney, and more are said to be on their way. Only one death has been reported so far. The area was hit by flash flooding earlier in March, killing 20 people.
"This is a life-threatening emergency," Stephanie Cooke, Emergency Services Minister for the state of New South Wales, stated that Sydney is now facing dangers on multiple fronts, such as flash flooding, riverine flooding, and coastal erosion. Ms. Cooke informed in a media briefing that this was a "rapidly evolving situation" and warned that people should be prepared to evacuate at short notice.
Her warning came as the Bureau of Meteorology estimated that up to 350mm of rain had hit certain areas, risking flooding along the Nepean River. Sydney's main dam had also started to spill overnight, another growing concern for the authorities. There have reportedly been 83 flood rescues by emergency services in the past 24 hours alone.
Ms. Cooke said how this itself shows that people haven’t necessarily heeded the advice that is being continually put out multiple times a day in regards to the flooding situation. She respectfully asked people in the affected areas to avoid non-essential travel during an emergency.
Her warnings follow an incident where an unidentified man died after falling out of a kayak on the Parramatta River in Western Sydney. Emergency officials attempted to revive the man after he was spotted struggling in the water by a public member, but he reportedly died at the time of rescue. Experts claim the flooding emergency has worsened due to climate change and the La Niña weather phenomenon.
The La Niña phenomenon occurs when strong winds blow the warm surface waters of the Pacific away from South America and towards Indonesia. To take their place, colder waters come up to the surface. In Australia, the La Niña climate pattern increases the chances of solid precipitation, cyclones, and cool daytime temperatures.
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