Australia: Evacuations begin as flooding strikes New South Wales
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After five weeks of flooding in the area, the banks of the Murrumbidgee river have burst and the emergency services are currently fighting across the Hay Plains in New South Wales to protect small towns in the area.
Australia has had to call in specialist flood rescuers from other countries in order to rescue people and cope with the emergency, and a team from New Zealand arrived to assist on Wednesday.
Months of rain in eastern Australia have bombarded the country with a flooding crisis and the soil in South Wales is no longer able to absorb water due to overexposure.
A climate scientist from the University of New South Wales said: “When it rains, there’s really nowhere left for the water to go.”
He added: “Now that the ground is well and truly soaked, it’s primed for flooding.”
In early October, it was reported that Sydney already had more rain this year than has ever been recorded.
The Mayor of the town of Hay, Carol Oataway, said: “You look out there and think you’re looking at the ocean, but that’s our Murrumbidgee River, spreading out across the Hay plains.”
Shocking photographs have revealed major settlements in New South Wales almost completely underwater, and animals in the area are struggling to survive as there have been reports of both livestock and wild animals drowning.
In the small town of Eugowra, east of the Hay Plains, 90 percent of homes have been affected by the flooding.
One woman from Eugowra was trapped as floods overwhelmed and swept away her home, and was only rescued after standing on a chair for five hours.
Senator Murray Watt has said, “special support” is on its way for Eugowra and added: “You literally have got homes that have been washed away.
“Not just homes that are flood water through them, they have been dislodged and moved, in some cases, tens and hundreds of metres down the street.”
When asked about the fact most people in Eugowra are uninsured, the Australian politician said: “People living in Eugowra and other flood-affected communities can absolutely rely on the federal government to come to the party to provide disaster support.
“That is what we have done in every one of the floods we have seen over the last three months since we took office and will continue to approach it.”
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In the town of Forbes, 14 people were rescued from the roof of a hotel and police are ferrying locals across the water.
People being rescued include hospital staff and patients who require supplies or medical attention.
Authorities are discouraging residents from taking their own boats across the water, but local business owner Tony Wallace spoke with the Guardian after using his boat to check his store.
He said: ”It’s Forbes, it floods, but this is different, it’s never reached this height before. There’s only so much you can do from here though, its just devastating for the town.”
With more heavy rain expected this week, the Premier of New South Wales, Dominic Perrottet has said the crisis is far from over.
He said: “There are many difficult days that lie ahead, our communities have been battered and bruised, and they are in the firing line again.”
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