SYDNEY: Record-breaking floods have had a “devastating impact” on isolated towns in the Australian outback, the country’s prime minister said on Saturday.
Helicopters have been winching people to safety as floodwaters rise in the sparsely populated Kimberley region of Western Australia. While the worst of the rain has eased, some towns could be cut off for the next few days.
Emergency services have called the unfolding disaster “the worst flooding event” the state has seen. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it had been difficult to reach some of the waterlogged areas.
“These floods are having a devastating impact,” he told reporters.
“Many of these communities are communities that do it tough. The resources simply aren’t there on the ground.” One of the worst-hit towns was Fitzroy Crossing, where residents had to wait for the sodden airstrip to dry out before military planes could bring in supplies.
According to authorities, the Kimberley region covers a tract of land three times larger than the United Kingdom but has a population of less than 40,000.
Australia has been repeatedly lashed by heavy rain in the past two years, driven by back-to-back La Nina climate cycles.
Flash floods swept through parts of eastern Australia in November last year, tearing entire homes from their foundations in some country towns.
Tens of thousands of Sydney residents were ordered to evacuate in July when floods swamped the coastal city’s fringe.
And an east coast flooding disaster in March — caused by storms in Queensland and New South Wales — claimed more than 20 lives.
Australian researchers have repeatedly warned that climate change is amplifying the risk of natural disasters.
Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2023