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Floodwaters Isolate Australians

November 20, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Fueled by two weeks of heavy rain, floodwaters cut off villages and destroyed crops Monday in two eastern Australian states.

About 50 homes in the village of Woolomin, about 150 miles north of Sydney, were evacuated overnight as the Peel River burst its banks.

The swollen river also threatened the nearby provincial town of Tamworth.

State Emergency Services spokesman Steve Opper said the city was expected to be split in two by rising floodwaters and up to 3,000 people would likely be cut off by flooding.

At least 12 rivers in northern New South Wales state were reported to be flooding.

Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson was expected to be among farmers in the region who will lose their wheat crops to the flooding.

His farm is 40 miles west of Tamworth in Gunnedah, one of the areas worst affected by the rising water.

``We are still in the position where we don’t quite know what the full extent of the damage and the nature of it will be,″ Anderson said. ``It goes beyond farming. I am hearing stories of damage to infrastructure, to rails and of course roads.″

To the north in Queensland state, damage in the town of Mackay was being assessed after a weekend of torrential rain forced the evacuation of homes and damaged fields of sugar cane.

Flood warnings also were in force for rivers across eastern Queensland.

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