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Residents look out at floodwaters next to the overflowing Hawkesbury River in the northwestern Sydney, Australia, suburb of Pitt Town on 6 July 2022. (Photo by Muhammad Farooq, AFP, Getty)

50,000 People Impacted by Widespread Flooding From Torrential Rains in Sydney

It’s the fourth flood emergency to hit Sydney, Australia, in the past 15 months—hundreds of homes in and around the city were flooded after days of torrential rainfall caused dams to overflow and waterways to break their banks, the Associated Press reported. Nearly 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain fell in 24 hours in parts of Sydney.

Officials ordered 50,000 people to evacuate or prepare to leave, and the New South Wales government declared a disaster across 23 local government areas. Roads have been cut off, some houses are underwater, and thousands of people are without power.

“This event is far from over,” said New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet. “Please don’t be complacent, wherever you are. Please be careful when you’re driving on our roads. There is still substantial risk for flash flooding across our state.”

It may take days to a week for floodwaters to start to recede, said Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Jonathan How.

Perrottet said that it’s time to let go of the idea that floods of this magnitude happen “once in a century” after some regions experienced their fourth major flood in less than two years, the BBC reported. He added that governments and communities will need to adapt as major flooding becomes more common.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said earlier Wednesday that the flooding and recent bushfires in Australia were evidence the country needs to take action on climate change.

“What we know is that Australia has always been the subject of floods, of bushfires, but we know that the science told us that if we continued to not take action globally on climate change, then … extreme weather events would be more often and more intense,” Albanese said.

Many residents received little warning of the impending flood and were forced to evacuate without securing their belongings on higher ground. This is pushing some researchers to develop more engaging and predictive warning services and products, according to the BBC.

In the meantime, authorities authorized flood disaster payments—$1,000 for adults and $400 for children.

Climate change and its effect on severe weather risks could have serious ramifications for security and business continuity professionals. For more, see prior Security Management coverage: