Hundreds of homes flooded, residents displaced by swollen rivers in Australia

Homes were flooded in Melbourne and other cities in southeastern Australia on Friday and rivers are forecast to remain dangerously high for days.

About 70 residents were told to leave the Melbourne suburb of Maribyrnong, along with hundreds in the towns of Benalla and Wedderburn in Victoria state, authorities said. Melbourne is the second most populous city in Australia with five million inhabitants.

Some 500 houses in Victoria were inundated and a further 500 were left isolated by floodwaters, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said. Those numbers would increase, he said.

Most of the state was experiencing a “very, very significant rain event and it comes, of course, with the ground completely soaked,” Andrews said.

A woman is rescued from flooding in Maribyrnong, a Melbourne suburb, on Friday. Rivers in Australia’s most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria, and the island state of Tasmania were swelling dangerously with basins soggy from months of above-average rainfall. (Erik Anderson/AAP Image/The Associated Press)

“The real challenge now is that we have another rain event next week and the (Weather) Bureau is forecasting more rain over the next six to eight weeks, and it’s not going to take a lot of additional water for that.” more flood events,” Andrews continued. “So this is just getting started and it’s going to be with us for a while.”

Andrews said 4,700 homes were without power, more than the 3,500 the Victoria State Emergency Service had reported on Friday.

The Bureau of Meteorology said major flooding was occurring or was forecast to occur on many rivers in Victoria and the island state of Tasmania to the south.

108 flood rescues in Victoria

North of Victoria, moderate to significant flooding was taking place along several rivers in the interior of New South Wales state, the office said.

A 63-year-old man was reported missing in a flood in New South Wales on Tuesday and one person was reported missing in central Victoria on Friday, authorities said. No details of the missing person from the Victorian town of Newbridge have been released.

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A Maribyrnong resident navigates a canoe through a flooded street on Friday. An emergency warning was issued for the suburb Friday morning and residents near the river were told to evacuate their homes. (Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

Police on Tuesday found the body of a 46-year-old man in his car submerged in floodwaters near the New South Wales town of Bathurst, west of Sydney, a day after he died.

The State Emergency Service said it had carried out 108 flood rescues in Victoria in the last 48 hours.

State Emergency Service Commander Josh Gamble said complacency was the main reason people got into trouble.

“That’s pretty significant and we haven’t had that many flood rescues for quite a while, in fact for a few years,” Gamble said.

“Many of these people are putting their own lives at risk, their own children in some circumstances, but more importantly, other community members and first responders, and that’s everywhere in the state, not just in metropolitan areas. “.

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People look at a flooded area in the Melbourne suburb of Maribyrnong on Friday. (William West/AFP/Getty Images)

Residents move to higher ground

Evacuation orders were also issued for the city of Rochester on the Campaspe River, north of Melbourne, and the central Victorian towns of Carisbrook and Seymour on the Goulburn River.

In New South Wales, 550 people have been isolated or evacuated from the town of Forbes when the Lachlan River flooded, officials said.

South of Forbes, parts of the town of Wagga Wagga were evacuated as the Murrumbidgee River burst its banks.

“Fortunately, the Murrumbidgee River peaked on Thursday and we are starting to see the flooding in those areas recede,” said Andrew Edmunds, an officer with the NSW State Emergency Service.

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Emergency workers look at a submerged car on a flooded street in Maribyrnong on Friday. (William West/AFP/Getty Images)

In Tasmania, residents of the north coast have moved to higher ground and river levels are forecast to rise, with the main port of Devonport closed on Friday due to flooding of the River Mersey.

The bureau said flood peaks in the Meander and Macquarie rivers in Tasmania are likely to be the highest on record.

The North Esk and Mersey rivers may reach the same levels as during the major floods of 2016, when three people drowned, the office said.

La Niña weather event

Last month, the office stated that a La Niña weather pattern was occurring in the Pacific, which is associated with above-average rainfall in eastern Australia.

The bureau forecast that the La Niña event may peak during the current Southern Hemisphere spring and return to neutral conditions early next year.

La Niña is the colder flip side of the better-known El Niño drought pattern. La Niña occurs when the equatorial trade winds become stronger, changing surface ocean currents and drawing cooler deep water.

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A man wades through flood waters amid evacuation orders in Maribyrnong on Friday. (Erik Anderson/AAP Image/Reuters)

It is the third La Niña since 2019 became Australia’s hottest and driest year on record.

That year came to a catastrophic conclusion with drought-fueled wildfires that directly or indirectly killed more than 400 people, destroyed more than 3,000 homes, and razed 19 million hectares of forest, farmland, and city fringes.

Sydney, the capital of New South Wales and Australia’s largest city, last week beat its 1950 record to make 2022 the wettest year on record.

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