Flood-weary Sydney residents return to homes after five days

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Flood-weary Sydney residents return to homes after five days

A resident drives through floodwaters along the overflowing Nepean River due to torrential rain in western Sydney on July 5, 2022. SAEED KHAN AFP SYDNEY - Heavy rain that pummelled Sydney over the last five days has eased on Thursday as flood-weary residents looked to return to homes to take stock of the damage, some for the third time this year.

An intense low-pressure system off Australia's east coast has weakened, but major flooding could continue for several days with rivers and dams already full capacity, even before the latest storm, according to satellite images.

ALSO READ: Thousands more evacuated in Sydney, though heavy rains in the city dwindled.

Water levels in Hawkesbury River in Sydney's west began to recede, bringing relief to residents in Windsor, one of the worst-hit suburbs. The heavy rain triggered flash floods in the mid-north coast of New South Wales, forcing nighttime evacuations.

We're in a mixed response at the moment of returning communities to their homes, but still responding to the evolving threat up in the mid-north coast and central coast of New South Wales state emergency services Deputy Commissioner Ashley Sullivan told ABC television. We have a number of flood rescues going on at the moment. More than 60,000 people in New South Wales have been told to evacuate or receive evacuation orders, down from Wednesday's 85,000. More than 30,000 have been allowed to go back into homes to assess damage, authorities said.

Some regions have seen rainfall records broken for July because of the relentless downpour, with some places getting more than the annual average since Saturday.

ALSO READ: Australia's floods worsen as more Sydney residents evacuated.

The frequent floods have raised questions about how prepared Australia is for severe weather events.

Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers has led the Treasury to model the impact of climate change on the Australian economy, re-starting work abandoned for almost a decade by the previous conservative governments, according to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

Australia's east coast weather has been dominated by the La Nina climate pattern, which is typically associated with greater rainfall for the second consecutive year. Weather officials said there is a 50-50 chance it may return this year, even though it ended in June.