Australia’s flood crisis is continuing with more than 85,000 people under evacuation orders or warnings. Communities across the state of New South Wales remain on high alert.
Thousands of homes near Sydney have been affected by widespread flooding — some for the third time this year, leaving residents facing an uncertain future.
A severe storm system that has battered parts of Australia’s biggest city has moved away, but rivers remain above danger levels, forcing more evacuations.
Some areas have had up to 700 millimeters of rain since Saturday. In the Hunter Valley, north of Sydney, rivers are at their highest recorded level since 1952.
New South Wales emergency services minister Steph Cooke told a news conference Wednesday that it remains a dangerous situation.
“We are now well and truly into day five of this latest emergency event and the emergency is far from over for many communities across Sydney and also as this weather event moves north through the Hunter, Central Coast and Mid-North Coast areas and for many it has been a sleepless night,” he said.
Environmental groups say that global warming is making Australia’s floods even worse.
But Professor Andy Pittman, the director at the Australian Research Council’s Center of Excellence for Climate Extremes, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that warming temperatures can’t yet be tied to individual disasters.
“The risk of more extreme events is increasing due to climate change but whether these particular events that we’ve seen are caused by climate change is difficult to ascertain,” said Pittman.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is touring flood-hit parts of Sydney as the federal government calls in hundreds of troops to help with the massive clean-up effort.
Authorities are warning that the flood crisis could stretch into early next week.
A cargo ship that lost power and was drifting in wild seas towards rocks near Sydney remains anchored off the coast. A large cable attached to one of three tugs boats snapped in seas with swells up to 11 meters.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority wants the MV Portland Bay to be moved to safer waters out to sea, but a recovery mission could well be delayed by rough conditions.