Australia swamped by worst flooding in decades; spiders, snakes are everywhere – USA TODAY

“Phenomenal” rainfall over the past week has led to some of the worst flooding in decades in Australia’s state of New South Wales, officials said Monday, and some rivers are topping record levels. 

Thousands of people have been forced from their homes and hundreds more had to be rescued from the rising floodwaters that have isolated dozens of towns in Australia’s most populous state.

Around 18,000 people had been evacuated from flooding in New South Wales (NSW) by Monday and emergency services feared up to 54,000 people could be displaced with heavy rain forecast to continue until Wednesday.

“This is nothing like we’ve seen since the 1960s,” said state Premier Gladys Berejiklian at a news conference, CNN reported. In parts of the state that have been hit harder, this is a once-a-century event; in other regions such as the Hawkesbury area, it’s a “one-in-50-years” event, she said.

Up to 38 parts of the state have been declared natural disaster areas. 

As of Monday, there have been no reports of deaths from the flooding, AccuWeather said. More than 16 inches of rain has fallen along the northern New South Wales coast during the last seven days, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

The rain submerging large swathes of the state contrasts with weather conditions a year ago when authorities were battling drought and catastrophic bushfires, Reuters said. 

“Communities who were battered by the bushfires are now being battered by the floods and a deep drought prior to that. I don’t know any time in our state’s history where we’ve had these extreme weather conditions in such quick succession in the middle of a pandemic,” Berejiklian said.

Some parts of Sydney’s western regions have suffered the worst flooding since 1961, said authorities, who expect the wild weather to last until Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Bureau of Meteorology national flood services manager Justin Robinson described the rainfall as a “very significant flood event for New South Wales.”

“I’ve been a flood forecaster with the bureau for 20 years and this is probably the worst flooding that I’ve experienced,” Robinson said.

The threat for heavy rainfall will diminish markedly as a front drives storms offshore by early Wednesday, ushering a cooler and drier air mass to clear the atmosphere, the Capital Weather Gang said.

Snakes and spiders have been seen struggling to reach higher ground, CNN said. “It’s still raining here and the floodwater is still rising, the water is getting closer to our home,” NSW resident Matt Lovenfosse told CNN. “In the morning it should be inside and the spiders will be all over the house.”

In addition, “the trees are full of snakes,” he said. “If you take the boat out over the paddock they swim toward it trying to get on something dry, same with the spiders.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

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Australia swamped by worst flooding in decades; spiders, snakes are everywhere – USA TODAY

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