1213 GMT May 24, 2022
Flood warnings were in effect for dozens of areas across the states of Queensland and New South Wales, where a week-long “rain bomb” has dumped a metre (3.2 feet) of water on some areas in a week, AFP reported.
Several waterways have already burst their banks or broken through levees, inundating towns and forcing residents to flee or seek safety on higher ground.
Nine people have died and more than a thousand people have been rescued. Authorities have warned that more fatalities are likely.
The latest victim was a woman in her 80s, whose body was found by police inside a home in the country town of Lismore.
“She is yet to be formally identified,” said New South Wales Police.
In the usually laid back surf town of Byron Bay, Hannah Leser spent the weekend celebrating her wedding with 150 guests.
But the new bride and groom are now spending their honeymoon rescuing friends stranded in the nearby towns of Ballina and Mullumbimby in a borrowed four-wheel-drive.
Elsewhere, a military helicopter performed a daring aerial rescue, plucking two people to safety as muddy waters lapped at the corrugated metal roofing of their home.
In the town of Lismore, local Member of Parliament Janelle Saffin had to swim to safety after she was stranded in the floodwaters.
Local resident Danika Hardiman was rescued Monday after she woke up to find floodwaters had reached the balcony of her second-floor apartment in the town’s main street.
Makeshift evacuation centres have been set up in primary schools, recreation centres and retired service members’ clubs.
Near the town of Grafton, buildings were submerged almost to roof level, roads were washed away and cattle roamed abandoned.
Australia has been on the sharp end of climate change, with droughts, deadly bushfires, bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef and floods becoming more common and more intense as global climate patterns change.