Sun, Feb 06, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Cyclone-induced rains trigger flash floods in Melbourne

AP and AFP, TULLY HEADS and SYDNEY, Australia

The cyclone that tore through Australia’s northeast this week brought fresh misery to people in the south yesterday, causing flash flooding in Melbourne even as residents in distant towns returned to ruined homes.

The tropical system that was Cyclone Yasi, which tore through the northeast earlier this week, was still churning over central Australia and making a series of thunderstorms over Melbourne and other large towns in Victoria much worse, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

More than 175mm of rain fell in just a few hours overnight on Friday in some Melbourne neighborhoods and winds gusting to 130kph knocked down trees, the bureau said.

Drains were overwhelmed, causing flash flooding that covered streets and swamped some homes. The State Emergency Service said 84 people were rescued from cars that stalled in flooded streets, or from inundated properties.

Police and army troops moved through the storm-ravaged coastal town of Tully Heads yesterday, going door-to-door accounting for residents.

Officials spray painted “No Go” as a warning on the worst-hit homes. A few houses were reduced to rubble. A layer of brown sludge covered the ground, leaving a sickening smell wafting throughout the community.

Residents spent the day sifting through the wreckage and dragging people’s possessions back to their owners.

“I’ll take my container back when you’re done with it!” Ian Barrett, 55, joked to his neighbor as his huge blue shipping container lay in the man’s yard, about 90m from where it once stood.

Barrett’s beachfront house was still standing, but was nearly empty inside. The waves ripped everything from the home: furniture, toys and appliances.

“We’re not gonna rebuild here,” Barrett said. “We’d never be able to go to sleep again at night.”

Meanwhile, Sydney residents sweltered through a sixth straight day of more than 30°C heat, the longest stretch on record.

The weather bureau said temperatures had been in the mid- to high-30s since last Sunday, the most enduring heatwave since recordkeeping began 153 years ago.

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