Yam Island in the Torres Strait has been inundated by a king tide, driven in part by the super blue blood moon overnight.
A video posted to Facebook shows water surging through homes in a social housing complex as residents plead for help.
People living at the complex in Mabuiag Point – known by locals as “the tin sheds” – say their homes are flooded every year but repeated pleas for assistance have not been answered.
“See what we have to put up with every year? It’s crap,” resident Latisha Gaiden says in the video. “Can you see what’s happening? Can somebody help? We need help. This is unbelievable.”
The homes are built next to mangroves on the island and sea-level projections forecast the area will be consistently underwater in coming decades.
The tide on Yam Island, which is part of Queensland, peaked just after midday on Wednesday at 3.84m. Thursday’s peak is forecast to be even higher – at 3.87m at 12.46pm.
Yam Island lies in the Torres Strait, about 100km north of the tip of Cape York. Low-lying, and just two square kilometres in size, it is home to a little more than 300 people.
Other nearby islands have also been hit by king tides this week, exacerbated by torrential rain and strong swells.
A $24.5m sea wall built on Saibai Island, near Papua New Guinea, largely succeeded in holding back the waves of a storm surge, although one valve in the wall popped open, allowing water in. One house on the island was inundated.
A tide of 4.5m was recorded at Boigu Island, while, on Horn Island, a jetty was submerged and a fishing trawler was swept away before being washed ashore.
Australia’s environment department has flagged the Torres Strait Islands as some of the places most vulnerable to rising sea levels caused by climate change.
“Some Torres Strait communities are affected under current king tide conditions and even very small levels of sea level rise are likely to have a major impact on these communities,” a report written in 2009 said.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has also identified the Torres Strait as being at risk and has warned communities they may be forced to relocate.
Last year, the Oxfam Australia chief executive, Helen Szoke, visited the Torres Strait at the invitation of the Torres council mayor, Vonda Malone.
Szoke said the people of the strait had contributed almost nothing to the causes of climate change but were being “hit first and hardest by its impacts”.
Leaving their ancestral home was a last resort for the people of the Torres Strait, Malone said, but they were “seeing their land washed away”.
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