Rescue efforts in full swing as Australia’s inland towns brace for flood peaks

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Emergency crews in Australia’s most populous state New South Wales were evacuating people and live-stock and sandbagging towns on Saturday ahead of an expected peak in floodwaters, with one river forecast to hit a 70-year high water mark. Australia’s east is in the grip of the fourth major flood crisis this year due to a multi-year La Nina weather phenomenon, typically associated with increased rainfall. The flooding has left thousands homeless and damaged agricultural industries.

Authorities have announced at least A$2 billion ($1.3 billion) in disaster relief to help thousands of residents repair homes and in some cases move from flood-prone areas.

Across New South Wales (NSW) state there were 103 flood warnings on Saturday. In Forbes, a rural town in the state’s wheatbelt about five hours drive from Sydney, some businesses have already been swamped by the rising Lachlan River, which is forecast to peak at a 70-year high of 10.8 metres (32 feet) on Saturday.

Rescuers used high clearance vehicles on Friday to access a pregnant woman whose water broke and needed urgent medical care, the NSW State Emer-gency Service (SES), said in a statement.

“We’ve had a couple of flood rescues…right now I am at a property east of Forbes helping move some horses. We’ve been sandbagging, resupplying essen-tial supplies, evacuations and flood rescues,” said Ryan Jones from the Forbes SES unit.

“It has been non-stop all day.” Along the Mur-rumbidgee River near the town of Wagga Wagga floods peaked on Friday at the highest level since 2010.

NSW Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke warned that while the wet weather had eased, towns downstream from swollen rivers now faced the risk of flooding.—Reuters

 

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