'I'm going to move': Residents count cost as rain heads north

A flooded suburb of Londonderry in Sydney. Photo: Reuters
A flooded suburb of Londonderry in Sydney. Photo: Reuters
Sydney resident Kevin has endured four floods in his home within the last six months. His yard is filled with filthy debris and he points to grime on the walls of his house up to the height of his shoulders caused by the flood waters.

He left his house on Tuesday as one of thousands of residents in New South Wales, mostly in Sydney's western suburbs, who needed to evacuate or were warned that they might receive evacuation orders. 

Kevin, who gave only his first name, and who is currently undergoing cancer treatment, had planned to move following three recent floods in his suburb of Camden.

But moving companies were unable to agree on a date, which resulted in Kevin's belongings becoming damaged by the latest deluge.

"Of course I've had enough... It's all over, I'm going to move," Kevin told Reuters.

The latest wild storm cell - which brought a year's worth of rain in three days to some areas - is likely to ease in Sydney from Tuesday, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said. But the risk of flooding could remain through the week with most river catchments already near capacity even before the latest deluge.

The wild weather also affected fellow Camden residents, Gai and Kim Peters, who filled the footpath in front of their home with flood-damaged furniture and a mattress as they began to clean up. They purchased the house just over two years ago.

Gai said she was "absolutely devastated".

"It's really hard... We're just doing one day at a time, getting through it. We've got a lot of family that have come and (are) helping… we'll get through it."

Rain moves to northern NSW

The wild storm system that has pounded several parts of Sydney with torrential rain for four days has moved away from the city, satellite images showed on Wednesday, although rivers remained above danger levels, forcing more evacuations.

More than 85,000 people in New South Wales, most in Sydney's western suburbs, were asked to either evacuate or warned they might receive evacuation orders, up from Tuesday's 50,000, authorities said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet on Wednesday visited deluged parts of southern and western Sydney that have suffered four floods in the past 18 months.

"This still remains a dangerous situation and we need to respond appropriately," Albanese said during a media briefing, as he declared a one-off emergency cash payment of $A1000 ($NZ1100) for flood-hit residents.

The intense low-pressure system off Australia's east coast moved to the mid-north coast of New South Wales stretching across 300km, with the weather bureau predicting rainfall in excess of 200mm there over six hours.

Torrential rains since Saturday continue to dump waters into river catchments around Sydney, already near full capacity before the latest deluge, as authorities warned the floods crisis could prolong until early next week.

Australia's east coast weather has been dominated by the La Nina phenomenon, typically associated with greater rainfall, two years in a row. The event ended in June, but there is a 50-50 chance it may re-form later this year, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Television footage showed cars parked on top of rooftops and residents lining up homes and businesses with sandbags, while emergency crews were seen rescuing stranded farm animals.

Some regions in New South Wales were hit with up to 700mm of rainfall since Saturday, more than the annual average, but conditions have begun to ease in Sydney.

"We're looking at some dry conditions (in Sydney) tomorrow and then Friday, some slight showers returning on the weekend but nothing quite as heavy as what we have seen," meteorologist Jonathan How told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Federal Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt said NSW was not out of danger yet, as a natural disaster was declared.

"The message is hopefully the worst has passed but no one knows that for sure," Senator Watt told reporters.

- Reuters and AAP

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