SYDNEY, Oct 17 (Reuters) – Thousands of Australians on Monday returned to homes and businesses to assess flood damage even as evacuation warnings remained in inland regions of the southeast and authorities warned of more rain ahead which could trigger renewed flooding.
Major flood warnings are in place across many regions despite little rainfall over the weekend with many swollen rivers only expected to reach peak flood levels this week.
“We are living in very dangerous times in the days and weeks ahead,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said during a media conference from Forbes, one of the worst-affected towns in New South Wales state.
“There is further rain expected later this week, so it remains a very dangerous situation.”
The weather bureau forecast another wild weather system that could bring rains up to 50 mm (2 inches) across some flood-hit regions.
Large parts of Victoria state, southern New South Wales and the northern regions of the island state of Tasmania were slammed by an intense weather system last week with some taking more than a month’s worth of rain.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers warned the latest flooding has inundated “some of the best growing and producing (regions) in Australia” that will spike food prices, adding more pain to families battling surging inflation.
In Melbourne’s west, residents of the flooded suburb of Maribyrnong piled damaged furniture and soaked floor carpets outside homes, footage on social media showed.
Some Maribyrnong residents blamed a floodwall erected around the nearby Flemington Racecourse, home to next month’s annual Melbourne Cup horse race, for worsening the flooding, local media reported.
Motel owner Meagan Keating in Rochester, one of the worst-hit towns about 200 km (124 miles) northwest of Melbourne, is getting ready to begin her clean-up.
“I’m just looking forward to turning my no vacancy off and being able to welcome people back,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “The biggest challenge is where do you start?”
(Reporting by Lewis Jackson and Renju Jose; Editing by Lincoln Feast)