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Disaster declared, more cash on way as Albo jets back to wet welcome


The federal government is considering more requests from NSW to support flood-affected communities ahead of a visit later this week by the prime minister.

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Anthony Albanese is due to arrive in Canberra late on Tuesday after attending a NATO leaders summit in Spain and making side trips to France and Ukraine.

Heavy rain is lashing vast swathes of Sydney, causing rivers to rise and subjecting thousands more people in flood-stricken areas to evacuation orders or warnings.

The flood emergency now stretches from the Central Coast to the Illawarra, with 97 evacuation orders and 60 warnings covering 45,000 people – up from the 32,000 affected on Monday.

The prime minister was briefed by phone soon after clearing war-torn Ukraine on Monday AEST on the situation in NSW, where tens of thousands have been evacuated and thousands of homes deluged.

Albanese also spoke to NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, who has declared a natural disaster triggering the release of a range of payments and loans for individuals and businesses.

“He will be on the ground here later in the week,” Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles, who was speaking from flood-affected Richmond in northwest Sydney, told Nine Network on Tuesday.

Albanese could tour the region with Perrottet as soon as Thursday.

Opposition frontbencher and Nationals leader David Littleproud told Nine NSW must be given all the resources it needs to help people.

The federal government has so far committed 200 defence personnel to help with the emergency, along with two helicopters, after a request by the NSW government.

“There are further requests that we are looking at right now, so it is an evolving situation,” Marles said.

“We have been very mindful, firstly, of the need to coordinate with NSW.”

Marles said he spoke on Monday night with Perrottet who was “very pleased with the degree of coordination”.

For many of the communities affected, this is the fourth damaging flood event in less than 18 months.

Scores of evacuation orders and warnings have been declared, mostly northwest of Sydney, where major flooding is occurring along the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers.

Joint disaster funding has been announced for 23 local government areas in Sydney and parts of NSW as an onslaught of rain continues, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people in flood-hit communities.

With significant rainfall totals over many catchments in the past three days, some areas are expected to approach or exceed flood levels of recent events in March 2021, and March and April of this year.

Scores of evacuation orders and warnings have been declared, mostly northwest of Sydney, where major flooding is occurring along the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers at Menangle, North Richmond, Lower Portland and Windsor.

Residents in parts of Chipping Norton in Sydney’s southwest were directed to evacuate before midnight, with flood warnings for the Georges and Woronora rivers.

The Bureau of Meteorology says the east coast low is expected to weaken, which should ease rainfall.

But the risk of major flooding remains across parts of NSW as the severe floods inundate whole communities.

About 100 millimetres of rain could fall in the next 24 hours stretching from Newcastle to southern Sydney.

Minister for Emergency Management, Senator Murray Watt, said the federal and New South Wales governments were working together to ensure affected areas get financial and other assistance as soon as possible.

“We have seen some of these impacted communities being hit by floods for a third and fourth time in 18 months, which is extremely distressing to the residents,” Senator Watt said.

The NSW Minister for Emergency Services Steph Cooke, said significant recovery support would be required to help communities once the major weather event passes.

“While we are still very much in the emergency response phase of this developing weather event, as waters recede we will work with communities to assess longer term recovery needs and ensure appropriate long-term support is provided”, Ms Cooke said.

Camden, in Sydney’s far southwest, has received 197.4 mm for the month to date, with residents enduring their fourth flood this year already.

Meanwhile, the Hawkesbury River at North Richmond may remain around 14m until Tuesday morning, with major flooding expected.

Showery conditions for the battered coast are forecast for the rest of the week, extending to the northern part of the state, which is still reeling from recording-breaking floods in February, March and April.

But the BoM says Northern Rivers residents can breathe easy as the showers are not expected to lead to more flooding.

The relentless rains of the past week add to Sydney’s wettest year on record, says Weather Zone.

Sydney’s Observatory Hill weather station amassed 148.6 mm of rain over the span of four days, bringing the city’s annual total to almost 1700mm.

Assistance provided through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements has been announced for the LGAs of:

Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Camden, Canterbury Bankstown, Campbelltown, Central Coast, Cessnock, Fairfield, Georges River, Hawkesbury, Hornsby, Kiama, Lithgow, Liverpool, Northern Beaches, Penrith, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven, Sutherland, The Hills, Wingecarribee, Wollondilly and Wollongong.


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