Flood-hit swathes of Western Australia faced a long path to recovery Thursday as muddy waters receded to expose the full scale of recent damage to homes, roads and livestock.
In the deluged town of Fitzroy Crossing – home to about 1,000 people – the waters collapsed the main bridge, swept away road surfaces and damaged homes over the last week.
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The floods created a vast inland lake in the northern part of Western Australia, also swamping much of Fitzroy Crossing and Indigenous communities in the sparsely populated region.
“I don’t want to sugar-coat the challenge that lies ahead in terms of both housing and road construction,” the state’s housing minister, John Carey, said Wednesday according to public broadcaster ABC.
“We have got to house people.”
Vast farms in the area are estimated to have lost many thousands of cattle, according to the Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association.
“The impact on pastoral stations is going to be significant,” state agriculture minister Jackie Jarvis warned Thursday.
“We actually won’t know the full impact for many months.”
The flood-struck Kimberley region covers a tract of land three times larger than the United Kingdom, but it has a population of less than 40,000.
Australia has been repeatedly lashed by heavy rain in the past two years, driven by back-to-back La Nina climate cycles.
Flash floods swept through parts of eastern Australia in November last year, tearing entire homes from their foundations in some country towns.
Tens of thousands of Sydney residents were ordered to evacuate in July when floods swamped the coastal city’s fringe.
And an east coast flooding disaster in March – caused by storms in Queensland and New South Wales – claimed more than 20 lives.
Australian researchers have repeatedly warned that climate change is amplifying the risk of natural disasters.
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