From fires to floods in hard-hit Australian state

Image: SAM MOOY/GETTY IMAGES

All the blazes in Australia’s hard-hit state of New South Wales have been brought under control, firefighters said on Thursday, signalling the end of a “black summer” that claimed 33 lives nationwide.

But heavy rains that helped extinguish the blazes that have raged along the east coast are causing flash floods in parts of the state, posing new problems.

“Not all fires are out, there’s still some fire activity in the far south of the state, but all fires are contained so we can really focus on helping people rebuild,” the state’s fire service deputy commissioner, Rob Rogers, said.

Bushfires scorched more than 10 million hectares in the country’s east and south, killing at least 33 people and an estimated one billion animals, while destroying more than 2,500 homes.

The crisis saw towns cut off and prompted military deployment to rescue stranded citizens.

Volunteer firefighters have fought the blazes day-in-day-out in what has been described as Australia’s “black summer”.

In the Australian Capital Territory around Canberra firefighters are still trying to bring one blaze under control.

Attention has now turned to tackling flash flooding following the heaviest rains in 30 years.

Dams near Sydney overflowed after days of torrential rain yesterday.

The Nepean dam was just a third full less than a week ago, but video footage yesterday showed water cascading over its wall.

Hundreds of people have been rescued from floodwaters.

Wild weather is set to ramp up again from today, with ex-tropical cyclone Uesi forecast to bring “damaging to destructive winds” and heavy rainfall to remote tourist destination Lord Howe Island.

Storms were also expected for Queensland and New South Wales.

“Any showers and thunderstorms that do develop are falling on already saturated catchments, so there is a risk with severe thunderstorms of flash flooding,” meteorologist Grace Legge said. — AFP

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