Australia news live: thousands more evacuated in Sydney floods; interest rate decision due; cargo ship still stranded

The NSW SES is directing people to evacuate parts of Shanes Park now.

‼️Evacuation Order- Shanes Park
SES is directing pple within parts of Shanes Park to evacuate now. Properties along Shanes Park Rd frm Whites Rd to the causeway just nrth along Shanes Park Rd. Shanes Park along Whites Rd & along Sth Creek Rd near Whites Rd https://t.co/BCnxAdPqqR pic.twitter.com/ohwfIkdjoB

— NSW SES (@NSWSES) July 4, 2022

Here’s today’s weather forecast for NSW.

Portland Bay bulk carrier may be stranded offshore until Wednesday

Ben Doherty

Efforts to tow the stricken cargo ship MV Portland Bay to deeper waters were suspended overnight after tow lines broke in extreme weather conditions.

As wild winds and torrential rains continue to lash Sydney’s coast, it could be Wednesday before it is safe to tow the 170m ship into port.

The Portland Bay, carrying nearly 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil, is currently at anchor about 1.2 nautical miles off Cronulla, attended by the tugboat, the SL Martinique. The Port Authority of NSW says the ship is in a sheltered, safe position, both anchors are deployed and secured.

The 21 crew on board are safe.

In a statement, the Port Authority said:

[W]ith 11 metre swells experienced last night, an operational decision was made to suspend further attempts to tow the ship out to sea.

The crew of the MV Portland Bay has been unable to make the repairs required on board and the incident team’s preference at this time is to bring the ship into Port Botany when the weather abates so repairs can be undertaken in the safety of a berth and port environment.

Based on current weather forecasts, it is expected that the ship will remain offshore until at least Wednesday.

On Monday night it was hoped the vessel might be able to moved to about 12 nautical miles off the coast by midnight, but dangerous weather snapped tow ropes and made moving the ship dangerous for rescue crews.

The ongoing severe weather conditions makes moving the MV Portland Bay extremely hazardous so the vessel is being supported in position until the weather eases.

The Portland Bay had unloaded a cargo of cement at Port Kembla, when it returned to sea early Monday morning. But the turbo fan in the ship’s main engine blew up shortly after 7am, leaving it stricken in seas of up to eight metres and 42 knot winds. The ship’s engineers have spare parts on board and were initially planning to attempt repairs at sea when conditions allowed. Those repairs are now likely to be done in port.

Portland Bay bulk carrier in ‘serious situation’ but ‘stable at present’

Briefly at the end of that ABC RN interview, Steph Cooke gives an update on the Portland Bay bulk carrier that is currently stranded off the coast of Royal national park:

It’s a very serious situation, there’s no doubt about that. I mean, it is stable at present. And we look forward to that situation being resolved today.

Cargo ship stranded off Sydney coast as wild weather hits NSW – video

By way of discussing the suitability of current infrastructure, Macdonald mentions the Windsor Bridge, which is supposed to be flood resistant but has been flooded multiple times now.

An emergency vehicle blocks access to the flooded Windsor bridge on the outskirts of Sydney on Monday.
An emergency vehicle blocks access to the flooded Windsor bridge on the outskirts of Sydney on Monday. Photograph: Mark Baker/AP

Cooke:

I think it’s sort of well understood that you know, we need to continue to build these [flood resistant] elements into everything that we do. And certainly in relation to the northern rivers region where I’m spending a considerable amount of time in the flood recovery space. Having discussions around how we do that … how do we rebuild infrastructure in a way that will be adaptable to the future and what we might experience in the space going forward? So I think discussions are ongoing and always interview to taking people safe and protecting their lives and livelihoods.

In response to a question about how communities are expected to adapt to repeated flood events such as they have experienced recently, Cooke acknowledged that they are “very weary”:

We’ve got you know, nearly 400 people presently in the ACE evacuation centres that are operating across the Sydney area. We’ve got about 150 people in emergency accommodation presently. I know you know those people are doing it really, really tough and I can understand them, you know, really questioning where they live and what future might hold if they continue to be faced with these types of circumstances on a regular basis.

Interviewer Hamish MacDonald: “Can you see why for people that are going through their fourth flood in about a year, why hearing that it’s a ‘one-in-100-year-flood’ is completely ridiculous?”

Cooke:

Yes, yes I can.

Traffic signs sit submerged along a flooded road in Londonderry on the outskirts of Sydney on Monday.
Traffic signs sit submerged along a flooded road in Londonderry on the outskirts of Sydney on Monday. Photograph: Mark Baker/AP

97 flood evacuation orders in place for NSW, affecting 50,000 people

The NSW minister for flood recovery, Steph Cooke, is on ABC radio this morning. She’s warning that while we’ll see some rainfall easing across Sydney today, there are still strong winds and there will be pockets of heavy rainfall:

We are encouraging people not to become complacent throughout today. We saw yesterday afternoon the situation changed very quickly … So, what we’re really saying is that if we do see a sudden downpour in a particular location people could find themselves in a bit of strife with flash flooding. And when of course we’re still working our way through those, those major flood levels out in the Hawkesbury-Nepean area, that will be a continued focus for us today.

And we are now starting to see that weather system move up into the lower parts of the Hunter district and we’re expecting isolated rainfalls between 40 and 65mm in that area, and on an already heavily saturated landscape, could have ramifications for people in that area.

Cooke says there are 97 evacuation orders in place affecting 50,000 people.

Good morning.

The flood disaster in New South Wales continues, with thousands of people evacuated from parts of greater Sydney and the surrounding areas as water levels rise and rain continues this morning. Disaster funding has been announced for 23 local government areas in Sydney and parts of NSW. The Bureau of Meteorology estimates 100mm of rain could fall in the next 24 hours across the Sydney/Newcastle region.

Debris sits in the middle of the flooded Windsor bridge on the outskirts of Sydney on Monday.
Debris sits in the middle of the flooded Windsor bridge on the outskirts of Sydney on Monday. Photograph: Mark Baker/AP

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, who returns from Europe late this afternoon where he attended the Nato summit and made diplomatic trips to Ukraine and France, is expected to visit flood-affected communities in and around Sydney later this week.

We’ll bring you all the news on the floods as it develops throughout the day.

Elsewhere, the cargo ship the Portland Bay, stranded off Royal national park south of Sydney yesterday after suffering a power failure and being cast adrift, is still stuck, with rescue efforts yesterday hampered by further bad weather. We’ll continue to bring you the latest on that.

And the Reserve Bank is meeting today, with markets and economists tipping it to raise interest rates again by 50 basis points, lifting the official cash rate from 0.85% to 1.35%.

There’ll be heaps more throughout the day so stay tuned. I’m Stephanie Convery and I’ll be your intrepid blogger this morning. As always, if you see something newsworthy that you reckon I should make note of, you can reach me by email at stephanie.convery@theguardian.com or on Twitter: @gingerandhoney.

Let’s get stuck in.



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