SYDNEY – A huge flood recovery operation is underway in eastern Australia as overflowing rivers continue to threaten homes. Two people have died, and thousands of others have been forced from their homes.
Officials say two men were killed after being caught in floodwaters in the states of Queensland and New South Wales.
Near Sydney, the body of a 25-year-old man from Pakistan was found inside a submerged car.
Detective Inspector Chris Laird said the man called emergency services to say his vehicle was sinking before contact with him was lost.
“Given what I have seen of the damage to the vehicle it could very well be the electrics totally failed and he was simply unable to escape from the car, which is an absolute tragedy,” Laird said.
The military is being brought in to help communities recover from some of the worst flooding Australia has seen in decades. Thousands of homes have been affected, and many roads, bridges and rail lines damaged.
Resident Angela Stewart was forced to leave her home north of Sydney. She told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. the floods are the latest disaster to strike her community.
“This is Australia, isn’t it?” she said. “We had all the bushfires within about 3 kilometers of our house last year, we thought this is the safest place to be during the COVID-19 pandemic, but then, you know, life has a tendency to equalize things out, doesn’t it?”
The torrential rain has eased across New South Wales, although some thunderstorms were forecast Thursday and the flood risk is expected to continue into the weekend. Dozens of schools remain closed. On Wednesday, a group of campers was rescued by a military helicopter after roads were cut by floodwaters.
Thousands of residents are being allowed to return to their homes to survey the damage from some of Australia’s wildest storms in years.
Several communities remain cut off by the floodwaters and supplies are being delivered by boat and helicopter.
Australia is a land experienced with nature’s extremes, but some of the downpours in recent days have been described as a once-in-a-century weather event.
Source: Voice of America