Wild weather lashed Australia, Latin America and Britain

December 28, 2015 6:58 am
The holidays have got off to a difficult start with wild in , the Americas and .


Fire-damaged buildings at Wye River in the Otway Ranges south of Melbourne. Photo / AAP

Victoria, Australia
Downed power lines
and falling trees are the main hazards for devastated Victorians trying
to return to coastal towns where a bushfire razed 116 homes.
Wye
River lost 98 homes in the Christmas Day bushfire – a third of the
houses in the town – while nearby Separation Creek had 18 homes
destroyed.
“(We are) concentrating on the hazardous trees, and
making sure we can get the roads open, the power companies able to
declare the power lines all safe,” the Department of Environment, Land,
Water and Planning’s Alex Shilton said. “Our aim is to try and open it
up so that it’s safe for people to get back in.”
Fallen domestic solar power lines remain a threat, while many trees are still burning and on the verge of falling over.
Victorian
Premier Daniel Andrews said residents had shown courage in the face of
the bushfires. “People were looking out for each other and there was a
sense of love and care and compassion.”

A policemam from the Victoria Police gives water to a Koala that had been caught in a bush fire. Photo / Facebook
A policemam from the Victoria Police gives water to a Koala that had been caught in a bush fire. Photo / Facebook
Those affected by the devastating Christmas Day
bushfires will soon be able to access up to A$1300 in emergency relief
under a joint state and federal government scheme.
The Great
Ocean Road’s tourism industry has also taken a hit as roads to the area
remain closed and accommodation cancellations pile up.
Shilton
said firefighters will be working in the area for weeks to come. “We’ll
be going on this until there’s heavy rain and we’re confident
everything’s out,” he said.
Lesley and Tony Maly, who lost their
home in Wye River, said they were told to evacuate shortly after they
put a turkey in the oven for Christmas lunch.
“It was like the apocalypse,” Maly told the Age.
“It was like the world had come to an end. The colour of the sun itself was a bright orange.
“The
first house that went up was right next to mine. Thirty minutes, it was
gone … then the other house next to mine lit up, and I knew mine was
gone.”
Tom Jacobs had been preparing to eat lunch with his
parents in Separation Creek when they found themselves fleeing for their
lives.
“The smoke kept on coming up bigger and bigger and then
it turned into a war zone with four choppers bombing directly overhead,”
he told the Herald Sun. “It had all been perfectly fine and then it went dark and it was like volcano skies.”
His family lost a goat, several sheep and a shed but the house was intact.
Northern Territory, Australia
The
search for a man missing in floodwaters in the Northern Territory has
entered its third day, while about 200 people are still waiting to be
evacuated from a remote Aboriginal community.
The 28-year-old man went missing at Peppimenarti, in the Daly River region, on Christmas Day.
An
evacuation order was issued on Boxing Day for the community of Nauiyu
and helicopter crews winched about 200 residents to safety. It was hoped
the remaining 234 would be evacuated by today with the help of several
commercial helicopter companies, the Northern Territory police, Fire and
Emergency Services says.
South America
More
than 100,000 people have had to evacuate from their homes in the
bordering areas of Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina due to severe
flooding in the wake of heavy rains brought on by El Nino.
In
the worst affected country, Paraguay, around 90,000 people in the area
around the capital city Asuncion have been evacuated, the municipal
Emergency Office said. Many are poor families living in precarious
housing along the banks of the River Paraguay. The Paraguayan Government
has declared a state of emergency in Asuncion, and seven regions of the
country, to free up funds to help those affected.
In Alberdi,
some 120km south of Asuncion, the Government has recommended that 7000
more families living along the banks of the river evacuate.
More
than 9000 people in Uruguay also had to flee their homes, according to
the national Emergency Office, which added that it expected water levels
to remain at their current level for several days before subsiding.
In northern Argentina, around 20,000 people have had to abandon their homes, the Government said.
Northern Britain
Parts
of Britain suffered further flood misery as at least two rivers burst
their banks, and the army was deployed on to the submerged streets of
Cumbria to help with relief operations. More than 360 flood alerts were
in place, including 20 at the most severe level, meaning there was a
danger to life.
The warnings came after forecasters said up to
120mm of rain could fall in some areas that were already saturated by
wave after wave of heavy winter squalls.
The Met Office also
issued two red alerts for rain in the Lancashire area, plus for
Yorkshire and the Humber. It is the first time two of these “danger to
life” warnings, which advise people to “take action”, expect disruption
to travel and to be prepared to evacuate their homes, have been issued
in the same day. Eleven flood warnings were issued in Scotland, covering
the Borders and Tayside areas.
Amongst the worst hit by the latest deluge was the village of Walsden, in the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire.
King
St, its main road, was submerged and some residents were evacuated from
homes by rescuers using boats as water levels continued to rise.
Kellie
Hughes, a hairdresser who lives in the street, said the situation was
“a million times worse” than a fortnight ago, when the same road was
flooded.
Southern California

A Ventura County fire  engine holds its position as fire overruns state Highway 101 near Ventura, California. Photo / AP
A Ventura County fire engine holds its position as fire overruns state Highway 101 near Ventura, California. Photo / AP
Fires have devastated swathes of southern California, burning around 485ha of land and creating “fire tornadoes”.
Tunnels of flames shot up from the ground and forced the closure of parts of a major motorway.
More
than 600 firefighters were at the scene or en route to battle the blaze
in the Solimar Beach area of Ventura County, 100km north west of Los
Angeles, and parts of the 101 highway had been closed.
The Pacific Coast highway was closed where it overlapped highway 101.
US South
The
death toll climbed to 19 after less than a week of tumultuous weather –
unusual warmth, tornadoes and torrential downpours – sparked flooding
and caused damage that wreaked havoc during the Christmas holiday.
Two
deaths attributable to weather were reported yesterday in Mississippi:
two people who have been missing since Thursday, bringing that state’s
death toll to 10. One death was reported in Alabama.
In Texas, residents braced for what the National Weather Service was calling a “historic blizzard”.
Some
parts of the Panhandle could see as many as 356mm of snow, with
sub-zero wind chills and accumulating ice. Residents in Lubbock and
Amarillo prepared for a storm.
Mississippi Emergency Management
Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said preliminary damage estimates show 241
homes were destroyed or severely damaged.
More than 400 homes in total were affected, he said.
Severe
storms are forecast as a strong cold front pushes through. Tornadoes
are possible today, and residents are asked to remain alert.
The flooding is the result of heavy downpours that have thrashed the southeastern US, bringing record rainfalls in some areas.
Rain walloped the city of Mobile, Alabama, and about 190 roads across the state were closed due to flooding.

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