Australia mops up after severe storms

Australia mops up after severe storms
A visitor looks out on rough seas at Bondi beach in Sydney.

SYDNEY - Emergency crews were mopping up Wednesday (Oct 15) after gale force winds, torrential rain and snow wreaked havoc across Sydney and surrounding areas.

The New South Wales State Emergency Services (SES) responded to more than 1,200 calls for help overnight as wind gusts of up to 160 kph brought down trees and up to 170 mm of rain caused widespread flooding.

More than 14,000 homes lost power across the state while roads and train lines were closed, disrupting public transport in the morning rush hour.

"The rain caused flash flooding in a number of locations with at least 57 flood rescues undertaken, most for people trapped in cars after driving into floodwater," said a SES spokesman. "Several people have been rescued from their homes which were affected by flash flooding."

Almost a year to the day since fierce bushfires wiped out more than 200 homes in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, residents awoke to a blanket of snow, a rare scene in the middle of spring.

"This has gone from coast to mountains - all of Sydney has been involved in these storms," NSW Fire & Rescue Superintendent Paul Johnstone told reporters. "It's a combination of everything - there're lightning strikes, heavy winds blowing trees, wires down and also the flooding."

The storm caused disruptions at Sydney Airport with more than 20 flights diverted or cancelled, although operations were getting back to normal Wednesday. "Flights are coming in and out, the weather is causing delays to unloading aircrafts... it will contribute to knock-on delays," an airport spokesperson said.

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