Sydney: Thousands of Australians were
ordered on Saturday to evacuate their homes in Sydney`s northwest and
elsewhere in New South Wales state as heavy rainfall flooded
rivers and waterways.
State Emergency Service Commissioner Murray Kear said
that 3,500 people were subject to evacuation orders as 75 per
cent of the state, the most populous in the country, was
affected by flooding.
Days of heavy rain after a damp summer have seen Sydney`s
Warragamba Dam, the main source of the city`s drinking water,
reach capacity for the first time in 14 years -- prompting the
water to move over its spillways late yesterday.
The swollen Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers were now
threatening areas around Sydney`s northwest.
"This is a moderate flood but it`s unusual because we
haven`t seen water in this river system in a while," Kear said
of the waters, which are likely to swamp bridges and close
Further west in New South Wales, the town of Bathurst had
been cut in two by floodwaters while across the state some
2,300 people had been left isolated by the surging torrents.
A severe weather warning for flash flooding was in place
in large areas of New South Wales and the southern state of
Victoria was also bracing for heavy rainfall.