From cars being swept away in raging torrents, to rescuing two national animals featured on Australia’s Coat of Arms from floodwaters, cows washing up on beaches, and huge earthworms fleeing from the water, fascinating pictures some of the unique ways the floods are impacting Australia.
A record once-in-a-century rain event and widespread flooding has prompted evacuations along Australia’s east coast this week from south-east Queensland to southern New South wales.
Authorities had warned of potentially ‘life-threatening’ flash floods as a huge weather system brought days of torrential rain across a vast coastal region already soaked by an unusually wet summer and threatened the most serious overflow of Sydney’s main reservoir in 30 years.
A resident from Windsor, north-west of Sydney, took to his boat to save his pet emu Gookie from floodwaters with the help of some neighbours, while native animal welfare group WIRES was called to rescue a kangaroo stuck in a fast flowing waterway nearby.
Windsor, New South Wales resident Paul Zammit (pictured) enlists the help of some neighbours to save his pet emu from floodwaters on Tuesday
The emu, named Gookie, was unscathed much to the relief of Mr Zammit (pictured) as thousands in the area were forced to evacuate
A cow (pictured) washed up on Old Bar beach near the mid-north coast region of Taree on Saturday after a devastating storm
An Eastern Grey Kangaroo (pictured) was rescued by WIRES after falling a fast flowing NSW waterway. The animal was checked for injuries and luckily found to have survived the ordeal unscathedand was safely released nearby later on Tuesday
‘It’s a very significant, record-breaking event with the rainfall that we have seen,’ said Agata Imielska of the Bureau of Meteorology.
Police said hundreds of people had flocked to evacuation centres in areas north of Sydney in New South Wales state, and they expected many more to seek shelter as the rains moved south down the coast.
The Bureau of Meteorology reported flooding levels surpassing record 2013 floods along the Hastings River outside Port Macquarie, about 400km north of Sydney, though the river levels started descending later Saturday.
Towns in the area have already seen record rainfall of more than 400mm since Friday morning, the bureau said.
It warned the heavy rains were forecast to move down the coast over the weekend, ‘potentially leading to life-threatening flash flooding’ in some areas.
The flood and extreme weather warnings stretched from Port Macquarie to areas 500km south of Sydney, where residents were urged to stay indoors due to the flash flooding risk.
Transport of Main Roads Queensland uploaded a video of a car being swept away in floodwaters in south-east Queensland on Tuesday (pictured)
The Ford Fiesta can be seen sitting on an asphalt road slowly disappearing under rising and rapid waters after the driver tried to pass a flooded road on Monday (pictured)
Former jockey Melinda Turner managed to save five of her horses (pictured) at Fernbank Creek on Saturday after being forced to evacuate
A motel owner in Tamborine Mountain in the Gold Coast hinterland – which has received 550mm of rain in the past two days – discovered a 50cm worm outside a guest room
The Warragamba Dam, which provides much of the drinking water for Sydney, began spilling over Saturday afternoon in what experts expected to be the first significant overflow of the reservoir since 1990 although there have been smaller breaches more recently.
‘We are in unchartered territory,’ warned Ian Wright, a water expert at Western Sydney University, who said the rapid urbanisation of the western Sydney area around the Warragamba since 1990 meant its spillover could no longer be reabsorbed by surrounding bushland.
‘The urban development adds hard, impervious surfaces, and drainage infrastructure. In heavy rain, this can rapidly generate high-velocity floodwaters,’ Wright tweeted.
Authorities issued an evacuation order for the town of Picton south of the dam after the spill and were closely monitoring flood-prone areas of western Sydney.
Most of the severe flooding Saturday was along the coast north of Sydney, where television images showed city and town streets underwater, and one house literally floating down a bloated river.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison lamented the ‘absolutely heart-breaking scenes’ of homes, towns and businesses inundated and offered troops to help with the emergency effort.
National broadcaster ABC said the rain and floods would also delay the already halting roll-out of coronavirus vaccines in Sydney and surrounding areas.
The country is due to begin the first major public phase of vaccine distribution on Monday although the programme has slipped behind the government’s announced timetable due to supply and delivery issues.
Emergency services reported receiving more than 3,000 calls for help and carried out about 300 flood rescues Friday night and Saturday across the affected area.
A stranded cow pictured in Tamborine Mountain in Queensland as floodwaters inundate paddocks (pictured)
TikTok user walkmyworld shared video footage from the Katoomba Falls Round Walk, in the Blue Mountains, during the crazy weather event
Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Tuesday said there were several weather fronts, ‘catastrophic’ in their dimensions, impacting large swathes of the state.
People northwest of Sydney have been ordered to evacuate homes amid the downpour as a surge of water flows into catchments, causing rivers to rise.
Major flooding is occurring along the Colo River and the State Emergency Service ordered about 500 people in 200 homes to get out on Tuesday.
Boats and helicopters were deployed by the SES to help them leave.
People in caravans along a stretch of the Hawkesbury River from Windsor to Wiseman’s Ferry have been told to prepare to leave, as have those in the Picton CBD due to rising levels in the Stonequarry Creek.
More than 9500 requests for help have been made around NSW since Thursday, with emergency services performing about 850 flood rescues.
An inland weather system coming across from the Northern Territory is also blighting rural communities such as Grafton and Lismore.
Evacuation warnings persist at Kempsey on the state’s Mid North Coast, while the Hunter, the Central Tablelands and the south coast are in for a drenching.
The Bureau of Meteorology on Tuesday said conditions were set to ease in coastal areas, but were likely to remain severe for inland NSW.
However, sunnier skies in coastal NSW will not end flood risks, with rain catchments continuing to flow into bursting rivers.
It will also likely continue to rain on the state’s south coast.
A farmer from Kinchela Creek, posted this image of spiders pouring across the property on the mid-north coast of New South Wales as they run ahead of the floodwaters (pictured)
One Reddit user from the NSW mid-north coast posted to Twitter that they woke up to a shark on their lawn (pictured)
‘It is almost impossible to believe but we will see blue skies and sunshine just later this afternoon in western Sydney and on the Mid North Coast,’ bureau meteorologist Agata Imielska told reporters.
‘Now it is very important to remember that even though we’ll have blue sky and sunshine returning, flooding will continue and the flood risk will continue.
‘Conditions with this clearing trend will mean we will see improvements across the board, but in terms of that flood risk, those inland catchments … they do tend to respond much slower and are more protracted.’
Warnings of moderate flooding along the Nepean River at Penrith are in place and floodwaters are also expected to affect the upper Nepean.
Ms Berejiklian also warned the rivers would keep rising after the rain stopped.
Hunter Valley Zoo shared this picture of alligators almost swimming out of their enclosures on Tuesday as water floods their habitat (pictured)
Houses have been swept away and thousands ordered to move amid relentless rain that has lashed the NSW coast for days. Structures are seen during flooding in Richmond, north west of Sydney