Palaces For The People
Friday, December 05, 2003
Flash floods hit Melbourne - DEC 4, 2003

Flash floods hit Melbourne (photo)

STRANDED drivers sitting on the roofs of their cars in West Melbourne yesterday, trapped by rising floodwaters, the result of the worst thunderstorm to hit Australia's second-largest city in a century.

Firemen were forced to use boats to rescue them, and those trapped on the roofs of their homes, as flash floods raced through large parts of the city.

'This is a once in a 100-year event,' Melbourne Weather Bureau forecaster Dean Stewart told reporters after more than 100mm of rain was dumped in two hours in some suburbs early on Wednesday.

Severe hail storms damaged cars, uprooted trees and flooded homes. There were no reports of injuries.

The Victorian State Emergency Service responded to more than 1,000 calls for assistance, Reuters reported.

Under one city bridge, 10 people were forced onto the top of their cars as chest-high water cascaded past their vehicles.

One woman told ABC radio she had woken up to see water pouring into her backyard.

'It was like a lake, it was unbelievable,' she said.

The massive downpour followed a prolonged drought in eastern Australia that saw water conservation measures imposed on Melbourne residents, the BBC reported.

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