Flash floods flooded hundreds of homes in southeastern Australia on Friday, with drenched residents now facing a “nervous” wait to assess the damage.
A major state of emergency has been declared in Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state, where rapidly rising waters have forced evacuations in the Melbourne suburb of Maribyrnong.
Cars abandoned on the suburban streets were almost completely engulfed by the flooding, while some stranded residents had to be rescued by inflatable lifeboats.
Maribyrnong resident Leah Caluzzi spent Friday morning salvaging sports equipment from the local cricket club.
“Our home oval is under water at the moment, the water is well above the waist,” she told AFP.
“I live in the same suburb and it’s a little scary.
“Fortunately, our house is a bit higher, but many houses around the river have been affected.”
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews told reporters 500 homes in Victoria had been “flooded” while another 500 properties were surrounded by flooding and cut off from emergency services.
“That number will certainly grow,” he said Friday.
Maribyrnong resident Betty Ristevesky said the situation was troubling.
“It’s getting a little unnerving now,” she told AFP.
“The water is getting closer and we can see it in front of us.”
While the worst of the rain passed late Friday morning, the state emergency service warned that flooding would worsen as water rushed downstream into the swollen watersheds.
“There aren’t many parts of Victoria that won’t experience major flooding in the coming days,” emergency services spokesman Tim Wiebusch told reporters.
Although waters began to drop in parts of Melbourne on Friday afternoon, the worst was to come for other parts of the state.
About 4,000 homes in Shepparton, about two hours north of Melbourne, could be flooded early next week, Wiebusch said.
Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the Australian military was deployed to help residents sandbag their homes.
“This is a major emergency for the state of Victoria,” he said.
A disused COVID-19 quarantine center with a capacity of 1,000 people would be used as shelter.
‘Lives in danger’
Northern parts of Tasmania – an island nation south of Victoria – were also preparing for major flooding on Friday.
Mass evacuation orders were issued, while heavy rains forced the closure of some 120 roads.
“Lives are threatened by flooding,” Tasmania’s state aid agency said in a statement.
In New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, an evacuation center was set up in Forbes, an inland town about a five-hour drive east of Sydney, after heavy rainfall on Thursday evening.
Australia’s east coast has been repeatedly plagued by heavy rainfall over the past two years, caused by successive La Nina cycles.
The east coast flood disaster in March – caused by severe storms in Queensland and New South Wales – claimed more than 20 lives.
Tens of thousands of Sydney residents were ordered to evacuate in July when floods again swept the outskirts of the city.
Climate change doesn’t cause La Nina events, but scientists think it could make periods of flooding more extreme because warmer air holds more moisture.
Sydney breaks annual rainfall records
© 2022 AFP
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