Thousands on the east coast of Australia have been isolated by flooding from heavy rains, the BBC reports. Thunderstorms and overflowing rivers have battered the northeast parts of New South Wales, the country’s most populous state, and the southern parts of Queensland; both have been declared natural disaster zones. The government has begun relief operations, dropping food by helicopter.
Residents of entire towns in the affected areas have been cut off, and hundreds more have left their homes to avoid the rising water, the BBC reports. "There are some 3,000 people who remain isolated,” said an emergency services spokesman, adding that those in more remote areas may be cut off for as long as a week.