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Australia declares ‘natural’ disaster [again]

Posted by feww on May 22, 2009

The Awesome Power of Australian Coal

Thousands of people have been evacuated after a week of torrential rain in Australia

The authorities declared a flood disaster on Friday after nearly a week of torrential rain and flooding which submerged large parts of the country’s east coast, killing at least one person.

flood_Australia
Cars are being washed into the sea. Source: LiveNews. Image may be subject to copyright.

At least 5,000 people were evacuated from their homes in Lismore, northern New South Wales state, as up to 10-meters of floodwaters “surged across riverlands stretching along 300 km (186 miles) of coastline.” A report said.

“The declaration will provide for a range of assistance to cover personal hardship and distress as well as funding for those who have suffered property damage,” state Premier Nathan Rees said.

About 190mm of rain had fallen over the Tweed River area alone in the 30 hours to 3pm (AEST) on Thursday.

Winds of 130 km/h were recorded at Byron Bay on Thursday morning, with gusts of 125 km/h possible in the next 24 to 48 hours, the bureau said.

About 381 properties in the Fingal Head area near Tweed Heads, and 500 residents of Darkwood on the Bellinger River, are expected to be isolated by flood waters.

About 240 public and Catholic schools were closed in the Lismore area due to heavy flooding. LiveNews.com.aus

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Source: LiveNews. Image may be subject to copyright.

Days of torrential rain and cyclonic winds have pummeled southern Queensland state and northern NSW “trapping hundreds of people as roads were cut, forcing authorities to use helicopters to rescue some.”

“The storms left 16,000 people without power as fallen trees brought down lines and blocked roads.” Reuters said.

“Floodwaters washed cars into the sea and huge waves pounded major ports, including the world’s biggest coal export port at Newcastle, where ship movements were disrupted.”

“There have been some vessel disruptions, but affects on coal throughput are negligible,” Reuters reported a spokesman for Port Waratah Coal Services Limited as saying.

Many rivers burst their banks in provincial towns including Grafton,  Murwillumbah, Tweed Heads.  The Bellinger River, near Coffs Harbour, was expected to peak at about 9 meters. Further south, at least 3,000 people were cutoff in the towns of  Bellingen, Darkwood and Thora, reports said.

“In south-east Queensland, hundreds of roads remained cut on Friday, with homes flooded and industrial suburbs in the popular tourist beach area transformed into canals.”

Fortunately (!) the major coal-mining operations to the north and west in Queensland have so far been spared, so that more coal can be mined.

“It is critical residents follow the instructions of local authorities and as far as possible stay indoors and avoid the roads,” Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said.

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