Clear-up in Australia after destructive storms

2015-04-23 07:42
Emergency crews work in the pouring rain to try and restore power to Avalon Beach in Sydney, Australia. (Glenn Nicholls, AP)

Emergency crews work in the pouring rain to try and restore power to Avalon Beach in Sydney, Australia. (Glenn Nicholls, AP)

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Sydney - Crews began the "immense task" of clearing up on Thursday after three days of wild weather left four people dead and millions of dollars in damage across Sydney and surrounding areas.

While the low pressure system that caused relentless gale force winds and torrential rain has weakened, flood warnings remain in effect for several swollen rivers and 190 000 homes and businesses are still without power.

Countless trees and power lines were brought down, many crushing houses and cars, and a handful of homes were washed away in what was described as a one-in-a-decade storm.

The latest official cost is $100m although some reports said the damage bill could eventually top $1bn.

Hundreds of emergency services personnel were deployed on Thursday across Sydney and north to the Central Coast and Hunter Valley regions working to clear roads, fix electricity supplies and repair broken roofs.

"We have 12 500 calls that we've received. We've got through about 50% of those already," said state emergency services deputy commissioner Steven Pearce.

"Now with clear weather we're hoping to churn through those over the next two or three days."

But he cautioned that "there is an immense task still ahead of us".

A total of 132 flood rescues have been made since the wild weather began Monday. Four people died, including three in the country town of Dungog when floods inundated homes.

Another elderly woman drowned when her car was swept away as bystanders watched helplessly.

The New South Wales state government has declared 12 natural disaster areas where special assistance packages will be made available.

Read more on:    australia  |  weather

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