An official leading relief efforts in an Australian state said on Sunday that army helicopters carried hundreds of communities cut off from severe flooding in the country’s northwest, indicating that water had covered the entire horizon in some areas.
The crisis began last week in the sparsely populated Kimberley region of Western Australia following an earlier tropical storm accompanied by heavy rains.
“Water is everywhere… people in Kimberley are experiencing flooding that had a 1% chance of happening… it’s the worst in Western Australia,” he told reporters in Perth, Australia’s capital West, State Emergency Services Secretary Stephen Dawson. Dawson said the floodwaters have buried areas up to fifty kilometers in some areas and that they “cover the entire horizon”.
These emergency weather conditions come after repeated flooding in the east of the country over the past two years, due to the El Niño phenomenon that occurs every several years. On Sunday, the Australian Meteorological Service said floods had cut cities off.
The town of Fitzroy Crossing, with a population of about 1,300, was among the hardest hit, and supplies had to be hauled in after streets were inundated by floodwaters.
The Met Office said on Sunday that rainfall had eased as the previous storm moved east into the Northern Territory, but warned “record-breaking major flooding” could continue in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. Local media reported the worst floods in the region.
State emergency services have warned residents of other small communities of rising waters in the area, which includes the resort town of Broome, about 1,240km north of Perth. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described Saturday’s flooding as “devastating” and pledged federal assistance.