March 20 (UPI) — Flooding in Australia’s New South Wales worsened Saturday as Sydney’s Warragamba dam overflowed.
The dam spilled over at about 3 p.m. amid severe weather statewide, which also caused a mini-tornado that left thousands in the dark in Chester Hill a suburb to the west of Australia, The Guardian reported.
Farther north along the coast in West Taree, video captured a house as it was swept away in flood waters.
The Bureau of Meteorology issued major flood warning across western Sydney, including urban development areas Penrith, North Richmond, Wallacia and Sackville.
NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott told The Guardian the State Emergency Service received 4,000 distress calls and made 500 rescues despite pleas to not drive into flood waters and put volunteer rescuers at risk, which he called “completely unacceptable.”
The NSW SES also issued an evacuation warning for people within the Picton, southwest of Sydney, due to rising flood waters.
The federal government said the severe weather has also impacted COVID-19 vaccine delivery across the state.
NSW Premier Glady Berejiklian warned residents in mid-North coast, the Hunter region, the Central Coast, metropolitan Sydney and the Warragamba Dam catchment area to be on high alert and ready to evacuate.
“The concerning aspect about the weather conditions we’re experiencing is the last time we suffered major floods in NSW the weather event past within two or three days,” Berejiklian said. “Unfortunately, this will be a deep-seated extreme weather event. It’s unlikely the rain will stop until towards the end of next week, so Thursday or Friday.”