SYDNEY (AP) – Heavy rains were forecast to subside on Australia’s east coast, but flooding will linger for days in the state of New South Wales, where 15,000 people nervously waited Tuesday for possible evacuation orders.
Some 18,000 residents of Australia’s most populous state have fled their homes since last week, with warnings that the cleanup could extend into April.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Tuesday that various weather fronts continued to affect large swaths of the state.
Some parts of the state had recorded two-thirds of their annual rainfall in less than a week.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the rain emergency was expected to ease by Wednesday night, but “the flooding remains persistent for some time.”
“I am informed that the rain and flood situation remains dynamic and extremely complex,” Morrison said.
The skies were forecast to clear over parts of Sydney and the coast to the north late Tuesday.
“It is almost impossible to believe, but we will see blue skies and sunshine just later this afternoon in western Sydney and on the north coast,” said government meteorologist Agata Imielska.
“It is very important to remember that even though we will have the blue sky and the sun returning, the flooding will continue and the risk of flooding will continue,” Imielska added.
Morrison said the New South Wales government had already asked 1,000 defense personnel to help clean up after the floods.
The torrential rain had spread along the New South Wales coast through the Queensland state line in the north and almost to the Victoria border in the south.