Monday, March 5, 2012

Thousands evacuate NSW towns as floods continue in Australia

Aerial view from a helicopter of flooded areas in Wagga Wagga in southwest NSW, Australia Photograph: Lukas Coch/EPA

Sixteen river systems have flooded in NSW, with Queensland and northern Victoria also facing serious flood threats.

Vast areas of Australia's east and southeast are facing devastating flooding after weeks of heavy rain.

In NSW alone – Australia's most populous state – an area the size of France is either under water or at risk of going under, after 16 river systems have flooded. Southeast Queensland and northern Victoria also face serious threats of flooding.

"This is devastating for small businesses, for farmers and for those whose houses have been flooded," said NSW state premier, Barry O'Farrell, who toured the state's affected region.

Attention has focused on the NSW town of Wagga Wagga, 475kms south west of Sydney, as it faces its biggest flood in 150 years.

Around 9,000 residents have been evacuated from the city centre amid fears the town's levee banks may not withstand the flood coming down the Murrumbidgee river.

It brings to 13,000 the number of people evacuated from their homes across the state.

The levee surrounding Wagga Wagga is 11m high and the river is expected to peak at 10.9m later on Tuesday. It's NSW's biggest inland city with 50,000 residents and it is an important agricultural, military and transport hub. Read More