Severe floods in eastern Australia, the worst seen in the country in decades, have left at least 13 people dead since they began in late February.
Rushing waters, which destroyed homes, businesses, and power lines across the country, forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate.
Nearly 200 miles of the Australian coastline in two states were affected by the flooding, which began on February 22 and continues to hit the country on Wednesday.
The flooding was caused by heavy rains that battered the country for over a week, and left the regions of New South Wales and Queensland particularly devastated.
Much of New South Wales is prone to flooding normally, but residents and experts claim that recent floods in the Australian state are unlike any recorded in recent decades. Dominic Perrottet, the New South Wales Premier, called the floods a “one-in-a-one thousand-year event,” according to CNN.
Australia needed action on the #ClimateCrisis 10 years ago.
This video was taken by my Mum at 10am. This is her balcony. She is likely going to lose everything she owns. The SES can't rescue her because there's people stranded on roofs.
Two once in 100 yrs floods in 5 YEARS. pic.twitter.com/trL7ZHSLve
— Isobel Montgomery (@isobelmonty) February 28, 2022
Floods in Australia the worst in decades
High floodwaters even impacted parts of Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, where residents were forced to flee the rising waters by waiting for help on the roofs of their homes.
Brisbane received 80% of its annual rainfall in the past three days, according to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
Thousands of people were rescued and emergency services have received over 6,000 calls for help since the flooding started in New South Wales. Many of the calls for help came from people stuck on their roofs or from drivers trapped in their vehicles as waters rose around them.
Drivers and passengers in their cars in the town of Woodburn, New South Wales, were rescued after the bridges they were trapped on were completely submerged by floodwaters.
The storm is currently headed toward Sydney, Australia’s largest city, and its over 5 million residents have been warned about the potential for flooding.
— Sally Sara (@sallyjsara) March 1, 2022
Concerns over floods in Sydney were compounded after reports stated that Warragamba Dam, the city’s main water source, began overflowing due to heavy rains.
“Today, the focus is on Sydney. We are expecting heavy rainfall over the afternoon into the night and into tomorrow,” New South Wales Deputy Premier Paul Toole said during a news conference on Wednesday.
The torrential rains and floods were caused by a La Niña weather pattern that has been impacting Australia since November. La Niña caused the country, which is currently in its Summer season, to have a wetter Summer in the north and east of the country, and an extremely dry period in the west.
The floods come just a few short years since one of Australia’s driest years on record, 2019-20, brought about devastating fires that razed much of the country. The bush fire was considered a megafire due to its extreme level of destruction, long duration, and massive size.
The fires directly killed 34 people, while nearly 500 others died of smoke inhalation; an estimated 3 billion animals perished in the blaze.