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Australia flood bill mounts and more rain forecast
by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) March 9, 2012

Australia's flood crisis was set to cost in excess of Aus$500 million (US$530 million) in New South Wales alone and more rain was on the way, the state government said Friday.

Eastern Australia has endured torrential rainfall for more than a week, leaving hundreds of homes flooded, damaging roads and bridges and soaking farmland in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria states.

"We have a damages bill at the moment that my guys are telling me is heading way north of $500 million," New South Wales Roads Minister Duncan Gay told ABC radio, adding that the state had been "horrendously hurt".

"The weather forecasters are telling me that April will be the worst that we've faced yet," due to a weather pattern known as "La Nina".

La Nina conditions typically bring higher-than-normal rainfall with Sydney on Thursday feeling the force of nature with an estimated 119 millimetres (more than four and a half inches) falling on the city -- the highest daily total since 2007.

As the waters eased in some areas across NSW, communities downstream from the floods were bracing for the surging torrents yet to pour through the Murrumbidgee, Lachlan and Hawkesbury river systems.

In Sydney, where heavy rain Thursday swept away cars and flooded railway lines, residents on the city's northwestern outskirts were being urged to prepare to evacuate their homes.

Further inland, residents of the country towns of Condobolin and Narrandera were bracing for the coming floods and people in the Victoria town of Nathalia were hoping their levee would hold.

Elsewhere, such as in New South Wales's biggest inland city of Wagga Wagga, emergency officials began the massive clean-up as flood waters began to subside. But residents were still faced with waterlogged homes and farms.

"It's fairly devastating but what else can we do? I don't think we are as bad as some people. I don't know what our losses would be," one flood-hit farmer, Lance Gillespie, told the ABC.

Hundreds of fire and emergency workers were hosing out homes, businesses and schools and clearing roads, Deputy State Emergency Operations Controller Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch said.

"While it's not over yet, some areas are starting the process of recovery and that generally begins with cleaning up," he said.

So far two people have died in the floods, after they attempted to cross waterways in cars.

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Australia floods inundate almost 2,000 homes
Sydney (AFP) March 10, 2012 - Australian floods have inundated close to 2,000 homes in New South Wales, an official said Saturday, as the surging waters appeared to claim the life of a man in the state's north.

Eastern Australia has been hit by heavy downpours in recent days, causing swollen river systems to pour through towns and villages in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, damaging crops, roads and bridges.

In badly-hit southern New South Wales, more homes were evacuated Saturday as the State Emergency Service said some 1,963 homes had been inundated, mostly around the major inland town of Wagga Wagga and the surrounding regions.

"There's further assessments being done at present to see whether they will crack the 2,000 mark which sadly I think it will do," State Emergency Service (SES) spokesman Phil Campbell told AFP.

"This is all over-floorboard flooding. It is the significant stuff that causes so much damage and it does range from water up to the ceiling to down to just creeping into the house."

The SES said while the floods were now moving more slowly, the town of Darlington Point was still under watch ahead of the Murrumbidgee River's expected peak on Sunday.

Australia's southeast has been hit by torrential rains, flash flooding and overflowing rivers in recent days which have seen two men drown after their vehicles were swept away by floodwaters.

Police said Saturday that the body of an 83-year-old man had been found close to his submerged utility truck on a farm near the town of Bourke, in the north of the state.


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Chaos as Sydney lashed by heaviest rainfall in five years
Sydney (AFP) March 8, 2012
Sydney was thrown into chaos Thursday after the city's heaviest rainfall in five years sparked widespread flash flooding and forced the closure of railway lines and dozens of roads. Large tracts of Australia's most populous state New South Wales are under water, with Sydney feeling the force of a La Nina weather system as an estimated 119 millimetres (4.7 inches) of rain fell on the city - ... read more

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