Another stormy night with extreme rain has flooded entire streets in the Australian coastal metropolis of Sydney and also caused considerable damage in the surrounding area. The Warragamba dam, which is important for supplying drinking water to the city of over a million people, was already overflowing, and according to authorities, other dams should reach their limit during the day.

Several bridges were closed and residents in low-lying residential areas were asked to get themselves and their belongings to safety. In more than 150 cases, residents of the state of New South Wales had to be rescued from their houses or cars trapped by the water, as the civil protection agency announced – half of which affected the capital region of Sydney.

The day before, the highest amount of rainfall in two years had been recorded in the east coast metropolis – as much rain fell in 24 hours as normal in the entire month of April. So the ground was already soaked when things got even worse the following night:

By morning, another 100 to 200 millimeters had fallen, and in some places even more than 250 millimeters. For comparison: The German Weather Service speaks of heavy rain from 20 millimeters within six hours; more than 60 millimeters is described as “extreme storm”. In Sydney, many times this amount came from the sky.

Waves up to nine meters high on Sydney’s coast

According to civil protection, more than 4,000 volunteers supported the authorities in the rescue and clean-up work. There were massive disruptions in local public transport, with many trains, buses and ferries standing still. Landslides occurred locally and large boulders crashed into the middle of streets. On Sydney’s coast, waves whipped up by gusts of wind reached up to nine meters high, according to a report by the ABC news channel.

The broadcaster described the case of a young couple who, along with their wooden holiday hut, were swept away by raging waters in the coastal town of Wollongong and barely escaped with their lives – judging by the remains of the shattered hut, they were very lucky. “They were understandably pretty shaken, but only have a few scratches on their legs,” said a neighbor who rushed to help the couple. “I can’t believe they got off so lightly.”

Another man was less lucky: his lifeless body was pulled from the water near a nature reserve in the Sydney suburb of Penrith, ABC reported, citing police. It was initially unclear whether he died as a result of the storm.

Airlift for cut-off community in Blue Mountains?

In the tourist-popular Blue Mountains region west of Sydney, where the weather bureau had warned of “dangerous and life-threatening flash floods”, a small town was cut off from the outside world. The only connecting road to the rural community of Megalong Valley collapsed due to a landslide. According to ABC, local authorities are now considering an airlift to supply residents.

Operations at Sydney Airport were largely back to normal on Saturday, after numerous connections had been canceled or inbound aircraft had been diverted the previous day. Overall, the authorities expect that the risk of flooding will continue for days due to water flowing out of higher areas and dams. The storm is now expected to move further south along the coast.