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Australia Flood Called Disaster of Biblical Proportions

22 cities inundated, 250,000 people affected by worst floods in Queensland’s history

Homes in the town of Emerald have been flooded up to the roof. Photo by Jodie Richter

Queensland’s flooding crisis could last for at least another month, according to experts. The water continues to rise in parts of the state and the city of Rockhampton is currently almost entirely cut off, with roads impassable and the airport under water.

More than 20 towns and cities have now been inundated or isolated by the most widespread flooding in the state’s history, with some communities still bracing for surrounding rivers to peak.

More than 1,000 people sought sanctuary in evacuation centers over the weekend, and hundreds more forced to leave their homes across the state.

Animals have been desperately seeking safety from the floods. Photo by Anthony Skerman

Rockhampton, home to 78,000 people, was bracing for 30-foot floodwaters with the Fitzroy River flooding about a half of the city.

”In many ways, this is a disaster of biblical proportions,” said Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser, warning that the flood could cost the state’s economy more than $1 billion. The flooding has also affected Queensland’s inland coal mines, damaging one of Australia’s major export industries.

The flooding began when Cyclone Tasha crashed into the northeastern coast and flood warnings went into effect for a dozen rivers around the northeastern Australian state into the new year.

About 300,000 square miles have been affected by the flooding.

The heavy rain may have had its origins in colder waters gathering in the equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean, a regularly occurring event known as La Niña that alters weather patterns, according to Anthony J. Broccoli, a professor of climate and environmental sciences at Rutgers University. “Northeastern Australia tends to be wetter during La Niña events,” he told The New York Times.