The Australian government has declared a natural disaster in large swaths of New South Wales (NSW). Heavy rains batter the state and force thousands to evacuate. The NSW and federal government have signed 16 natural disaster declarations in areas spanning the central and mid-north coast, from Hunter Valley near Sydney to Coff’s Harbour. The declaration allows those affected to receive financial assistance, including recovering damage to homes. Some families were forced to evacuate in the middle of the night as rivers rose to dangerous levels. In some regions, like the Hawkesbury area, it’s a “one-in-50-years” event.Many people lost everything they owned. A video circulating on social media shows a house being carried by floods.
Since Thursday, the State Emergency Service (SES) has responded to 7,000 calls for assistance and conducted more than 750 flood rescues. “What we’re going through is different to what you’ve been through for the last 50 years. So please take it seriously,” state Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned. Authorities don’t know yet how many homes or infrastructure have been lost, The estimated damage is substantial. Heavy rains are expected to continue in the upcoming week. The worst-affected areas could see rain totals more than four times the March monthly average falling in just two days.