Wednesday , October 5 2022

Flooding turns lives upside down for Vietnamese in Australia


Sydney’s suburbs, where many Vietnamese live, are experiencing their fourth major flood in 18 months, which have turned streets into rivers and caused widespread damage and disruption.

The Australian state of New South Wales has been battered by torrential rains in recent days due to an intense low-pressure system off the country’s east coast.

The Bureau of Meteorology has warned that heavy rains will continue to fall in parts of the state over the next few days, worsening the flooding.

Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, the country’s most populous state, received an average of 733 mm of rain in just the first four days of July, or higher than London’s yearly average of 615 mm, U.K. state broadcaster BBC reported.

Following Sydney’s fourth major flooding in the last 18 months, many residents have been forced to evacuate as water engulfed houses and submerged cars and roads.

Liam Nguyen, a Vietnamese who has been living in Australia for 10 years and working as a mechanic in Sydney, said: “The rising level in the George River has significantly impacted the districts of Cabramatta, Fairfield, Canley Vale, and Liverpool, where many Vietnamese people live.

“Vietnamese have been on high alert following a series of floods since last year, evacuating as soon as the authorities sound the emergency siren.”

He said the number of stalled cars brought to auto repair shops in the Vietnamese neighborhood had increased dramatically in the last few days ad floodwaters engulfed many roads.

State Emergency Service (SES) personnel prepare to deploy as floodwaters submerge residential areas following heavy rains in the Windsor suburb of Sydney, Australia, July 5, 2022. Photo by Reuters/Loren Elliott

State Emergency Service (SES) personnel prepare to deploy as floodwaters submerge residential areas following heavy rains in the Windsor suburb of Sydney, Australia, July 5, 2022. Photo by Reuters/Loren Elliott

The State Emergency Service (SES) is constantly dispatching lifeboats to rescue people in an area that has grown “familiar” with the sight of the river overflowing its banks during the rainy season, he added.

Sean Kearns, an SES official, said more than 60 evacuation orders and warnings have been issued in the last few days, primarily in Sydney’s northern and western areas.

Imogen Saoirse, a Vietnamese-Australian living in Cabramatta, said the local government began issuing specific warnings about roads at risk of flooding following heavy downpours on the afternoon of July 4, enabling her to plan a better way to travel home from work.

She said it usually takes her around 40 minutes to get from Redfern, a suburb near Sydney’s core urban area, to Cabramatta. But that day Henry Lawson Drive was closed due to flooding and she had to drive for an hour and a half to get home despite leaving before rush hour.

“I shudder to think how miserable and inconvenient it would have been for those stuck in traffic at 4-5 p.m.”

Last night the Cabramatta community channel advised residents to avoid the Hume and Cumberland highway intersection because roads in the area were “severely flooded.”

With the Nepean River overflowing, Camden, about 40 minutes away from her house, was the most severely flooded, she said.

Her father, who lives in Camden, has been stuck for four days and is sheltering at the Thien Lam Temple in a nearby Vietnamese community.

The widespread flooding that hit Australia’s east coast this year could be attributed to the La Nina weather pattern.

According to Jane Golding of the Bureau of Meteorology, some areas in the Sydney metropolitan area have received rainfall equivalent to the average for the entire month of July.

Thanh An, a Vietnamese man who has been living in Australia for nine years, said: “The recent torrential downpours lasted longer than usual but thankfully it was not accompanied by strong winds like the storm in February.”

The storm in late February also lasted days and dumped 1,000 mm of rain in parts of Queensland and New South Wales, flooding many rivers.

It forced many businesses to close down because employees were stuck in the suburbs and could not get to work.

Liam Nguyen said the constant flooding reduced the availability of green vegetables in markets and supermarkets, causing food prices to rise and making people’s lives more difficult.

“The flood occurred during a period of great volatility, from rising gasoline prices to high raw material prices. We have no idea what tomorrow will bring.”

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