Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rising floods spread to second Australian state

AP: Authorities put helicopters on standby for emergencies Tuesday as they evacuated residents from homes north of Sydney inundated by floodwaters, while wildfires continued blazing in the country's drought-parched south. Australia's populous east coast has been beset by weather extremes of fiery drought and torrential rains that scientists argue are being exacerbated by climate change.

The Bourke region of New South Wales state's northwest was declared a natural disaster area Tuesday after 20 homes and several government buildings were flooded, State Emergency Service spokesman Phil Campbell said. High water also isolated about 5,000 people in towns, villages and farms across the state's north, he said.

The Bellinger River burst its banks Tuesday, prompting the evacuation of homes and businesses in the town of Bellingen, which has a population of 3,000, and communities downstream, police Chief Inspector Shane Cribb said. With more rain forecast Wednesday, the flood risk has not passed. "We'll be making sure that we have sufficient helicopters as well as volunteers and flood boats in that region to answer any requests for emergency evacuation," Campbell said.

To the north, most of Queensland state has been submerged for weeks by the worst flooding in three decades, with more rain expected during the tropical monsoonal season….

That's the flag of New South Wales

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