Australia: Flooding in New South Wales and Queensland 2022

Flooding in the streets of Brisbane in March 2022.
Alex Cimbal/Shutterstock

Flooding in New South Wales and southeast Queensland has led to lost lives, homes, belongings, pets and livelihoods. Thousands of people in south-western Sydney have been ordered to evacuate as extreme rain pummels the region and floodwaters rise rapidly. The devastating floods have also cut off power for tens of thousands of people across New South Wales and Queensland, limiting their access to basic amenities and hampering rescue efforts.

This region, particularly Western Sydney, is no stranger to climate-related disasters.


Around 2,000 homeowners in flood-prone areas of the Northern Rivers of New South Wales will now be eligible to raise, repair, retrofit or have their home voluntarily bought back, as part of a A$800 million government program.
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Flooding stirs up river sediments, which can spread contaminants in our waterways and floodplains. Flood water can carry sediments bearing contaminants from a range of sources, such as sewage, petrol stations, industrial yards and farming areas.
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A stack of sandbags in front of a door.
“We are […] sandbagging the state”, New South Wales Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke declared on Saturday. And so we endure the third La Niña season with this waiting-for-the-next-disaster attitude.
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This year’s floods in South-East Queensland and Northern New South Wales devastated communities. The NSW flooding was on “a scale never seen before”. More than 5,000 homes were left uninhabitable. Many residents had nowhere else to go.
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When floods swept the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales earlier this year, scores of people ignored official advice and rescued neighbours and friends from floodwaters using their boats, kayaks and jet skis, while risking their own lives.
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Lismore on a map of Australia's East coast.
More than three months after the monster floods wrecked much of Lismore, there is still no clarity for the town’s residents and businesses who urgently need to make investment decisions. Should they move to higher ground, make temporary fixes, renovate?
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To understand how extreme weather like this year’s Southern Hemisphere deluges will change as the climate warms, we must understand the underlying physical processes responsible for their development.
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Australia needs more investment in hydrological modelling and new infrastructure to reduce the impact of major flood events, UNSW expert says.
University of New South Wales
While local and state governments have led the way on climate adaptation to date, citizens have much more to do, as the worrying lack of preparation for the floods that devastated Lismore makes clear.
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Driving into floodwater is the leading cause of flood-related death. Despite media campaigns, drivers continue to enter unpredictable water, risking their lives and the lives of rescuers. Having a Plan B could be the difference between life and death.
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