Australia battles floods as frustration swells over relief, warnings

Parts of the central business district under water at Forbes, New South Wales, Australia, on Nov 17, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SYDNEY – Flood-weary residents in Australia’s south-east were urged to remain on high alert for major flooding on the weekend, the authorities said on Friday, as swollen rivers continued to roll downstream despite an ease in severe weather conditions.

Relentless rain over three days into Monday has wreaked havoc across the south-west of the biggest state, New South Wales, cutting off entire rural towns, some in the wheatbelt region, for the second time in November and leading to rooftop evacuations of hundreds.

Australia’s east has been devastated by frequent floods over the last two years due to a multi-year La Nina weather event, typically associated with increased rainfall.

Some regions have endured four major flood crises since 2021.

Tempers frayed after a resident in Eugowra, one of the worst affected towns, confronted state Premier Dominic Perrottet during a tour of affected areas, television footage showed, blaming the authorities for slow relief and delayed warnings.

“We had no food, no clothing, no one telling what’s gonna happen next because no one was here. What’s your answer to some of that before I keep on going,” resident Peter Jones was heard asking Mr Perrottet.

“That’s not good enough,” Mr Perrottet responded, to which Mr Jones said: “That’s not an answer.”

Clear skies returned early this week, but emergency crews said the danger has not yet passed.

“Significant risk remains,” New South Wales emergency services Chief Superintendent Ashley Sullivan told ABC television.

“We will see a significant impact over the next 24 to 48 hours.”

Emergency crews on Friday morning resumed the search for two men believed to be missing in flood waters.

Forbes, home to around 8,000, could remain flooded for at least the next three days, Chief Superintendent Sullivan said, as the Lachlan river peaked at a near 70-year high.

Further downstream at Condobolin, with a population of around 3,000, residents are bracing themselves for record flooding.

In Hay, the Murrumbidgee river has exceeded the levels hit during the floods in 1974, the Bureau of Meteorology said. REUTERS

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