Thousands Refuge from Australia’s Worst Floods in Decades

Tens of thousands of people were ordered to flee their homes Tuesday and many more were asked to prepare to evacuate as parts of Australia’s southeastern coast were inundated by the worst flooding in decades.

Many residents, some with pets, have been trapped on their roofs for hours in recent days due to the rapidly rising river level in the town of Lismore, New South Wales. Meanwhile dozens of cars were trapped on a bridge in the nearby town of Woodburn overnight, while roads approaching the bridge were flooded. Up to 50 people were rescued from the bridge by Tuesday morning, officials said.

A team of Fijian workers at a nearby meat processing plant joined rescue efforts in Lismore and surrounding towns.

People use small boats to cross a flooded road in Lismore, Australia, Monday, February 28, 2022. (Jason O'Brien/AAP via AP)

People use small boats to cross a flooded road in Lismore, Australia, Monday, February 28, 2022. (Jason O’Brien/AAP via AP)

One of the Fijian workers, Apolose Nimacrre, said, “In our home in Fiji it is normal, we used to help each other like this and we are very happy to be part of the community helping each other.”

Floodwaters moved south into the state of New South Wales from Queensland in the region’s worst natural disaster since the so-called once-in-a-century event in 2011. The death toll from this latest disaster stands at eight in Queensland and another in the state. parts of New South Wales. Police said the latest victim was a woman in her 80s who was found at her home in Lismore.

Extraordinarily heavy rains came as the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported this week that large areas of Australia have lost 20% of their rainfall and the country’s fire risk has exceeded the worst-case scenario developed just a few years ago.

Australia’s hottest and driest year on record was 2019 which ended with devastating bushfires across parts of southeastern Australia. [uh/ab]