Heavy rain in Australia has caused flooding so dangerous and disruptive that Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared a national emergency this week. The flooding began in late February and has continued into March across the east coast states of New South Wales and Queensland. The disaster has killed 22 people so far, with homes, roadways, and vehicles inundated. It is one of the worst flooding events in the country’s history.
Since the intense flooding began in late February, there have been dozens of evacuation orders that have affected tens of thousands residents in both Queensland and New South Wales. Many people have had to leave behind flooded, damaged homes.
Some people in Queensland and New South Wales needed help evacuating, including residents stuck on their rooftops. Some emergency services were delayed, prompting volunteers to crowdsource private helicopters to help deliver supplies and to evacuate people in New South Wales, The Guardian reported.
The torrential rain and floodwaters have caused South New Wales’ dams to overflow. Bridges and major roadways are under water, causing major traffic delays for people trying to go through or leave affected areas. Residents of the area have also lost personal vehicles to the floodwaters, The Guardian reported.
Eastern Australia also experienced disastrous floods back in 2011. That event killed a reported 35 people across New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. Like the current disaster, the 2011 floods and torrential rain led to billions of dollars in losses for the country’s economy and prompted thousands of people to evacuate from damaged homes.
New South Wales and Queensland are no stranger to disaster — in 2020, the area was engulfed in smoke as huge bushfires swept through the region. By the end of January 2020, more than 3o people died and over 20 million acres burned as a result of the fires.