The sun shone again in Sydney over the weekend. The bright blue sky lied about what happened in the city of five million at the beginning of the week. It had been raining for two weeks in a row and many were already wondering what was waiting for them.
This is because the meteorological system had previously brought heavy rainfall to the northeast of the country and the rivers overflowed. Brisbane, the state capital of Queensland, receives 80 percent of its annual rainfall in just three days. At least 15,000 homes were flooded and the city’s port had to be closed for security reasons. The state was hit by similar floods in 2011.
Shortly afterwards, the small town of Lismore in northern New South Wales, Sydney, was devastated. The local river sometimes reached a water level of more than 14 meters, two meters higher than the previous peak in 1954. Hundreds of people had to be evacuated. Most of the houses here had water up to the roof. Many lost their possessions.
“Unity is better”: Situation in Sydney after the floods
RND correspondent Barbara Burgause reported the situation after severe flooding from Manly, a Sydney suburb. © RND / Barbara Barkhausen
Dramatic recovery efforts
There were also some dramatic rescue operations in Lismore. For example, a 93-year-old woman was evicted from her home just in time after the entire house was already submerged – with just a 20-centimeter headboard. A man in Lismore told local media how his house had never been flooded before and how he woke up at dawn after water was poured into his house. Aidan Ricketts took his own family safely to the boat.
Although he quickly realized that his house was beyond storage, he returned to save the neighbor from the surrounding streets. In total, 16 people and five dogs were brought safely. “When we left our house, the neighbors were sitting on their roofs and we could hear people in the roof vacuum trying to get out by drilling holes in the metal roof,” he told the Guardian’s Australian edition.
The streets turned into rivers
Dominic Barrott, Premier of New South Wales, has already described flooding as one of the worst natural disasters in Australia. At a press conference he spoke about the “event of the millennium”. New South Wales is one of the states most devastated by the devastating 2019-20 wildfires. Meanwhile, a national emergency has been declared in the eastern part of the country. The floods have claimed more than 20 lives so far, but it remains to be seen whether the clean-up operation that has just begun will bring out more victims.
Streets in Sydney turned into rivers due to heavy rain on Tuesday. 40,000 Sydians had to be evacuated, and 20,000 were alerted as the reservoir overflowed. In the luxurious Mosman district opposite the city center, 128.5 milliliters of rain fell at 6 a.m. Tuesday. Many streets had to be closed, especially in the north of the city.
In the middle of the residential area: waves like the ocean
The Manly area, a popular beach suburb, was submerged. “It was really bad,” said Christian Conen, a German immigrant who lives with her husband in Manly. His entire street was flooded, and the apartments under his apartment building were flooded. “There were waves in the sea in front of our house,” she said. “I was very emotional – it was a mixture of fear, but also sympathy for the neighbor who lived downstairs, where everything was flooded,” Conan said.
She felt safe on one floor. “But you see the water rising, we already know the pictures from Lismore, we know how fast it can go.” Conan said the items were already packed if they had to be evacuated by boat. Eventually the reservoir was held, the rain stopped and the water rose as fast as it had risen on Tuesday, as well as on Wednesday. All that is left is dirt, rubble and sand, broken cars, wet furniture, books and clothes. “The team spirit was good, everyone left their stuff with others, they helped with the food, they helped with the cleaning,” German said. “Incredibly, people are still in a good mood and are funny even if they lose their belongings.”
Help mixed with anger
Despite the devastation in Sydney, the fact that many more were able to help fellow citizens who were even worse off in Lismore in the north of the state last week shows a great desire to help the country. For example, after a fundraiser and fundraiser, two Sydney residents provided on-site assistance to the heavily devastated city with emergency cleaning supplies, bedding, underwear and rubber boots. A call through Whatsapp on the neighborhood triggered a wave of help: “It’s amazing what ordinary Australians are willing to do to help each other,” Nicola Skinstad commented.
While everyone was ready to help, the severe flood has angered many in the country. Visiting Lismore, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, ‘Stop this nonsense! Declare a weather emergency! ” His liberal-conservative government has been repeatedly accused of being inactive in climate protection. Australia is one of the countries that was late in agreeing to the zero emission target by 2050. In addition, the country continues to rely on coal and gas for energy production.
According to Douglas Bartsley, an expert at the University of Adelaide in Australia, after the current catastrophe, Australia is finally beginning to face the reality of global warming. The notion that such floods or fires “occur only once every 100 years” should be “seriously challenged” in a rapidly changing climate, he said. Instead, the country should expect more weather systems that create floods and hotter and drier summers, thus leading to more violent wildfires.
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