Residents of Australia’s east coast, victims of widespread flooding, began a cleanup operation on Thursday as water began to recede, revealing the extent of the damage.
A week of torrential rains in New South Wales, the most populous area in the region, killed two people.
Houses were badly damaged, agricultural crops were destroyed and many roads were covered with mud.
As the rain stopped, thousands of residents returned to their homes to assess the extent of the damage.
Hundreds of soldiers and volunteer firefighters took part in the operation, removing mud from taximen and attempting to remove debris using chainsaws.
Inspector Ben Shepherd at the Rural Fire Service told AFP that his teams are working to allow “a normal return as soon as possible”. “It can take several months to a few months,” he said.
In the vast flooded area, many residents remain isolated, and he says about 20,000 people still cannot return to their homes.
“We believe that most rivers have reached their peak,” said New South Wales Prime Minister Gladys Berejikalian, who, however, calls for the population to be vigilant.
“The increase in water will continue to occur in some areas, who may not have seen such an amount of rain for half a century or a century,” she said.
Since the start of the flood, which began last weekend, rescue services have received more than 11,000 calls for help and relief to a thousand people.
According to the forecast, the sun is expected to shine in flooded areas next week.
On the banks of the Hawkesbury River, near Sydney, relief workers are still busy transporting food and essentials to isolated areas.
Thousands of homes and businesses have suffered extensive damage and insurance companies have already received 22,000 claims.
In some areas of the coast, one meter of water fell in a week equivalent to two-thirds of normal annual rainfall.
Scientists warn that Australia is expected to be particularly exposed to extreme weather events due to climate change.