MELBOURNE, Australia – At least eight people have died as flash floods have swept northeastern Australia over the past few days, with extreme weather forcing people to evacuate and schools to close, while thousands of homes have been damaged. submerged in water.
Queensland has been hardest hit, with torrential rain pelting towns and cities and slowly moving south to engulf the state capital, Brisbane.
Photos and videos from the city Monday morning showed the Brisbane River extremely swollen and many streets severely flooded, with many roads, buildings and vehicles affected by the downpour. The normally busy streets were submerged.
Authorities estimate up to 18,000 homes across the state have been affected, including about 15,000 in Brisbane. More than 1,000 people were evacuated and about 53,000 homes were without power on Monday morning. Hundreds of schools were closed, and officials asked residents to work from home.
By Monday morning, the rain had eased and the Brisbane River peaked at 12.6 feet. It is expected to peak again in the afternoon.
The heaviest rain is moving south to New South Wales, where the town of Lismore is experiencing its worst flooding on record. Torrential rain Sunday night caught authorities off guard and left residents with little time to evacuate, many trapped on rooftops as floodwaters rose rapidly.
With emergency services overwhelmed, some people took to social media to plead for help. Officials predict the town’s river will peak at around 46 charges on Monday afternoon.
According to experts, the country, a giant landmass as large as the continental United States and surrounded by oceans that guide its climate, has suffered from extremes of weather for millennia, including including extreme droughts ending with major floods. But although some of the factors driving those swings are ageless, Climate change is increasing the likelihood torrential downpours.
Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland’s premier, on Sunday described the latest disaster as a “rain bomb”.
“It just pours down the bucket,” she said at a press conference. “It’s not a waterfall, it’s like rushing water.”
Ms. Palaszczuk compared the weather to an “unpredictable storm” and said authorities had not expected the storm system to stay in the state for that long.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia described the situation as “very worrying” and urged people to stay in their homes.
“It’s going to be a very nervous night in Brisbane as we see the rain continue to fall,” he said on Sunday.
Of the eight people who have died since Wednesday, seven are in Queensland and one in New South Wales state, authorities said.
The latest incident was a 59-year-old Brisbane man who was swept away by floodwaters while crossing the street on Sunday afternoon. Others include a 34-year-old Brisbane man who died trying to get out of his flooded car on Sunday morning and a volunteer paramedic who died when her car was swept away while she was en route. came to help a family stuck in flood water.
Photos and videos posted on social media showed houses flooded to their roofs and floodwaters reaching traffic lights.
Some have brought use boats, including kayaks, to get aroundand the scene of a person swimming in the flooded cricket ground went viral on social media, despite authorities advising people to stay away from the water.
The town of Gympie, where two deaths occurred, has seen its worst flooding since 1893.
Beaches along the Gold Coast, near Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, north of the city – which are popular holiday destinations – were closed on Sunday because of dangerous surfing conditions.
The last time Queensland faced something like this catastrophic flooding was in 2011, when 33 people were killed after torrential rain for several weeks. That disaster affected more than 200,000 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/27/world/australia/australia-flood-queensland.html ‘Rain Bomb’ hits Northeast Australia, killing at least 8 people