Australia's east coast was smashed by heavy rains on Saturday, sparking unsafe flash flooding that forced the evacuation of multiple regions as the fast-moving waters unmoored houses, engulfed roads, stranded towns and cut power lines.
It comes just a year after unprecedented climate-change bushfires burned across the same region, which followed a prolonged drought that had also seen Sydney introduce water restrictions.
Up to 38 places across the state are regarded as natural disaster areas and 19 evacuation orders have been issued, with potentially more to come, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in a news conference Monday.
"I don't know any time in our state's history where we have had these extreme weather conditions in such quick succession in the middle of a pandemic", Ms Berejiklian said.
Around 200 schools across New South Wales are closed today due to the ongoing weather event, with bus services around Penrith, Blacktown, and Hawkesbury paused because of flooding.
The rain and floods were expected to delay the already halting roll-out of coronavirus vaccines in Sydney and surrounding areas.
"I've been a flood forecaster with the bureau for 20 years and this is probably the worst flooding that I've experienced", Mr Robinson said.
Most of the coast of New South Wales (NSW) state, which is home to about a third of Australia's 25 million people, has already seen March rainfall records broken and authorities warned the downpour was likely to continue for several days. "It was going past.as fast as the ski boats go.As soon as it broke the banks, it was like a torrent", said Larry Powers, after he was rescued by emergency services following a day's wait at his property in Pitt Town.
"As long as all the animals and our staff are all okay, that's really all we care about and everything else is replaceable", the dogs' owner Sharon told Reuters.
People walk on a street inundated with floodwaters in the suburb of Windsor as the state of New South Wales experiences widespread flooding and severe weather, in Sydney, Australia, March 22, 2021.