Flood threat moves north as Sydney area emergency eases


SYDNEY (AP) — Floodwaters receded in and around Sydney on Thursday as heavy rain threatened to inundate towns north of Australia’s largest city.

Evacuation orders and official warnings to prepare to abandon homes were given to 60,000 people on Thursday, up from 85,000 on Wednesday, New South Wales state Premier Dominic Perrottet said.

But towns like Maitland and Singleton in the Hunter Valley, north of Sydney, were still at risk of flooding, Perrottet said.

About 50 rescues have been carried out in the past 24 hours, several of which involved people trapped in cars in floodwaters, he said.

Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke said the record rain that started around Sydney on Friday last week is easing.

“It is very nice to see that the weather situation is starting to improve after almost a week of non-stop rain,” she said.

The weather system that had brought heavy rain to a wide swath of New South Wales was moving away from the coast towards the sea north of Sydney, said Diana Eadie, head of the Bureau of Meteorology.

Bulga, a town about 180 kilometers (110 miles) north of Sydney by road, experienced its highest level of flooding since 1952, she said.

Taree, about 320 kilometers (200 miles) north of Sydney by road, was inundated with 305 millimeters (12 inches) of rain overnight – almost a third of the city’s annual rainfall average, a said Eadie.

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