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Towns Evacuated as Floods Threaten Australia’s NSW State

Hundreds of residents are being forced from their homes in New South Wales as floodwaters threaten as much as half of Australia’s most populous state and heavy rainfall spreads to neighboring Victoria.

About 50 percent of NSW, home to the nation’s biggest city Sydney, is flooded or under threat after 100 millimeters (3.9 inches) of rain fell in a 24-hour period in some areas, Julie Evans, a meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, said by telephone today.

“We’ve broken a few records already and we expect to break some more,” Evans said today. “This event hasn’t finished. We’re expecting widespread falls of 50 to 100 millimeters and some over 100 millimeters today in parts of” the state’s southeast.

Areas of Cooma, a town of about 6,500 people 390 kilometers (240 miles) south of Sydney, and parts of Goulburn, with a population of more than 20,000, are being evacuated, the State Emergency Service said. Floodwaters in northern New South Wales last month damaged homes, ruined cotton crops and caused cattle sales to be canceled, one year after natural disasters cost the Australian economy A$9 billion ($9.7 billion).

Residents in Tallygaroopna, a township of 270 people about 200 kilometers north of Melbourne, have been told to prepare to evacuate, Victoria State Emergency Service said today.

Warragamba Dam, about 65 kilometers west of Sydney, is almost 94 percent full and may reach capacity and begin spilling over in coming days, according to a statement on the Sydney Catchment Authority website.

Newcrest (NCM), BHP

Newcrest Mining Ltd.’s mines in New South Wales state’s Cadia Valley weren’t affected by the most recent rain, spokeswoman Kerrina Watson said by telephone today. The company cut its full-year gold output estimate by 6 percent in December after a landslide at Cadia Hill mine and heavy rain in Papua New Guinea. BHP Billiton Ltd.’s (BHP) operations “aren’t experiencing any significant impact due to wet weather,” Kelly Quirke, a Melbourne-based spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

This week’s downpour may help achieve above-average wheat, barley and canola yields, Luke Mathews, a commodity strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), said Feb. 28. Australia typically begins planting winter crops about early May.

About 17 properties near Cowra in NSW’s central west were evacuated late yesterday, the SES said. Coolamon recorded a record 123 millimeters of rain yesterday, according to Evans.

Most of New South Wales and eastern Victoria may receive between 50 millimeters and 100 millimeters of rain in the four days to March 4, according to a model on the bureau’s website. Some regions may get between 150 millimeters and 300 millimeters in the period, the model shows. Australia may have wetter-than- normal weather in most of its eastern regions between March and May, the bureau said Feb. 22.

To contact the reporter for this story: Phoebe Sedgman in Melbourne at psedgman2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net

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