500,000 People in Sydney and Surroundings Ordered to Evacuate

Around 500,000 people in Sydney and the surrounding area on Thursday (3/3) were told to evacuate or prepare to escape flooding as heavy rains lashed Australia’s east coast.

River levels are reported to be rising in Australia’s most populous city of about 5 million people. New South Wales State Emergency Minister Steph Cooke warned of “dangerous weather conditions” over the next 24 hours.

The Australian Meteorological Agency warned of possible life-threatening flash floods and strong winds with maximum speeds of 90 kilometers per hour.

Major flooding is expected in several areas located near rivers in Sydney and its surroundings. Dozens of suburbs are now on high alert.

A flooded building near Windsor on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia, Thursday, March 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

A flooded building near Windsor on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia, Thursday, March 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

The New South Wales State Emergency Management Service issued evacuation orders to 200,000 residents and evacuation alerts have been sent to another 300,000 residents.

New South Wales Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet urged residents to take the order seriously. “We believe that things will get worse before they get better,” Perrottet said.

A minor flood warning was also issued for Sydney’s southern coastal communities.

Floodwater levels are also rising in Brisbane, Australia’s third most populous city, which is about 730 kilometers north of Sydney. Severe thunderstorms were reported to have hit the city in the state of Queensland.

Floods have claimed 14 lives in Queensland and New South Wales since 22 February. [ab/uh]