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Australia floods declared a national emergency

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Australia floods declared a national emergency

MELBOURNE, Australia – Australia’s prime minister declared a national emergency on Wednesday as more than a week of heavy rain lashed the country’s east coast, causing some of the worst flooding in Australian history and in two of its largest cities. The flood has come.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, said the announcement would fast-track aid and supplies to the most devastated areas, where bodies of missing people were found submerged in floodwaters, and dozens of evacuation orders forced thousands from their homes. Have given.

It was the first time that a national emergency – a legislative force created after the deadly wildfires in early 2020 – was declared.

“I deeply feel and fully sympathize with how people feel in this situation,” Mr Morrison said during a visit to the flood-ravaged city of Lismore in the state of New South Wales. Government inaction. “It’s a very complex and very challenging environment,” Mr Morrison said.

In addition to the emergency declaration, the prime minister said he had signed tens of millions of dollars in additional federal support for those affected, including disaster payments of 2,000 Australian dollars, or about $1,460, per adult, and 800 Australian dollars, or $585. Are included. , per child.

According to officials, at least 20 people have died in the floods and more than 60,000 people have been ordered to be evacuated. Hundreds of schools are closed, and people in the Illawarra area, off the coast of New South Wales, and the Sydney metropolitan area have been told to refrain from all but emergency travel.

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The extreme rain, which has caused Sydney to have the highest start of any year on record and Queensland’s capital Brisbane, has been brought on by two intense low pressure systems in two weeks. Parts of Sydney have received more than 34 inches of rain this year, an amount the city doesn’t usually reach until August.

In New South Wales, floodwaters are rising rapidly, flooding Sydney’s suburbs as well as rural cities across the state.

In Sydney, the Roseville Bridge, which sits about 60 feet above normal water level and is used by thousands of commuters every day, almost appeared to rise above a lake. Outside flooded homes, residents built piles of waterlogged items and ruined furniture. Some sailed through the flood on kayaks or rubber dinghys, while others sailed through waters that almost ran up to their waists.

As of Wednesday, more than 100,000 people had filed flood-related claims, the majority of them in Queensland, according to the Insurance Council of Australia. According to rating agency S&P, the cost of the floods is expected to be more than 2 billion Australian dollars, or less than 1.5 billion dollars.

Climate demonstrators and residents of Lismore came out in the presence of Mr. Morrison to downplay the federal government’s generally inaction on both flooding and climate change. Some have referred to Mr Morrison, writing “he’s not a real man,” or “this is what climate change looks like”.

As federal elections draw closer, there is increasing scrutiny of Mr Morrison’s centre-right Liberal Party, which many describe as having a long history of downplaying the threat of global warming. Despite being repeatedly battered by extreme weather events including devastating fires, droughts and widespread flooding, Australia was one of the last wealthy countries to set a 2050 target for net-zero emissions.

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Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Morrison acknowledged that a changing climate was a factor in the flooding, something some saw as a move for frustrated voters. “We are dealing with a different climate than we were dealing with before,” he said, adding: “These disasters are making it difficult to live in Australia.”

But the complexity of the weather systems involved in extreme rainfall makes it difficult to determine the exact role of climate change in flooding, even though its impact on Australia is more generally undeniable, said Andrew King, a lecturer in climatology at the university. said. Melbourne.

“For things like extreme heat events, we’ve got a very clear climate change fingerprint,” he said. “But for these kinds of multiday, extreme rain events that cause flooding, it’s pretty hard to tell what the role of climate change is.”

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