Australia’s bushfire-ravaged east coast was lashed by heavy rain on Friday, prompting authorities to issue flood warnings for the region.
In the midst of the worst drought on record, the huge downpour has been predicted to continue for at least a week, bringing relief to the long-suffering communities.
“A coastal trough near the northern and central New South Wales (NSW) coast is bringing increased rainfall and other severe weather to the area,” the Bureau of Meteorology said in a forecast.
“This trough is expected to deepen and gradually shift southwards, increasing rainfall and bringing dangerous winds and surf conditions along with the central and southern parts of the coast and adjacent ranges during the next few days.”
Thunderstorm activity or the formation of mesoscale lows embedded within the coastal trough is possible, according to the forecast.
Last month, a massive bushfire in the Orroral Valley south of Canberra was sparked by an Australian Defence Force (ADF) helicopter.
With severe flooding blanketing several north coast areas of the state, the NSW Emergency Service (SES) said they had received over 600 calls for assistance already.
“We’ve got our rescue crews right up and down the coast, because we know this event will really go border to border,” SES Assistant Commissioner Paul Bailey told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“We put crews in those areas where we traditionally have problems with people driving into floodwaters.”
On January 19, the Bureau of Meteorology in Victoria issued severe thunderstorm warnings for parts of the state and said that damaging winds and heavy rainfall were expected.
Earlier, hundreds of Australians were arrested for deliberately starting the devastating bushfires since September.
About 4,000 people in the town of Mallacoota in Victoria headed to the waterfront after the main road was cut off.
The impact of the bushfires has spread beyond affected communities, with heavy smoke engulfing the country’s second-largest city Melbourne and the national capital Canberra. Some government departments were shut in Canberra as the city’s air quality was once-again ranked the world’s poorest, according to independent online air-quality index monitor Air Visual.
The disaster has sparked growing public anger with Morrison. Rallies are planned on Friday to call on his government to step up efforts to tackle climate change, which experts say have helped fuel the fires.
They broke out before the beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere, which begins in December and where a shortage of rain is expected until the end of March.