December 7, 2023

Brighton Journal

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Australian cities are battling back-to-back fires and floods

Australian cities are battling back-to-back fires and floods
  • Written by Tiffany Turnbull
  • BBC News, Sydney

Image source, Merliu Rural Fire Brigade

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The fire threatened the town of Lochsport in Victoria

Hours after threatening fires, several Australian towns are bracing for floods.

Bushfires are burning in Victoria’s Gippsland region and the south coast of New South Wales this week – both regions badly affected by Australia’s Black Summer bushfires four years ago.

The rain now offers some relief, but has also sparked flood warnings.

The country has been suffering from one disaster after another in recent years, as it feels the effects of climate change.

“This is one of the reasons why my government… [is] “We are determined to act on climate change,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said when speaking about the situation on Wednesday.

In Gippsland, a rural area in southeastern Victoria, hundreds of firefighters spent several days battling two serious blazes that prompted evacuations and destroyed at least one home.

New South Wales (NSW) authorities also confirmed that several homes were destroyed by fire in the Bega Valley on Tuesday.

In both states, the fires have scorched nearly 25,000 hectares (250 square kilometers) of land — an area roughly five times the size of Manhattan Island.

But a large cold front is bringing heavy rain to southeastern Australia on Wednesday, prompting authorities to issue a warning to prepare for possible flash and river flooding.

Towns in the Gippsland region that were once threatened by fire are now at risk of being cut off by floodwaters.

“Do not attempt to drive through flash flood waters, as this may be the last decision you make,” Victoria State Emergency Services Chief Tim Weybush warned residents on Tuesday.

In NSW, fire areas received some rain, but the main flood risk is inland. Elsewhere in the state, extreme fire danger continues – with hot, dry and windy conditions forcing complete fire bans in some areas.

Australia has been hit by a series of disasters in recent years – severe drought, historic bushfires, consecutive years of record floods, and six mass bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef.

The latest report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that a future filled with worsening disasters is likely unless urgent action is taken to halt climate change.

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