Worst flooding in decades sweeps away homes and animals

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In the worst flooding in decades, close to a metre of rain has fallen in some parts of New South Wales and more is forecast to come, forcing thousands of people to evacuate.

Residents in flood-hit areas west of Sydney were evacuated overnight after heavy rainfall caused its largest dam to overflow.

"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.

Warragamba Dam, a main water supply for Sydney, began overflowing on Saturday afternoon.

"As we speak there are literally tens of thousands of people across the state on tenterhooks because of the flood situation", she told reporters during a press conference.

Scientists say that climate change is also intensifying La Niña's impact, and making weather patterns more erratic.

"The trees are full of snakes", he said.

Australia's federal government has activated disaster relief for those who are significantly injured, lost homes or had their homes damaged will be entitled to $1,000 AUD (roughly $770 USD) for adults or $400 AUD (roughly $310 USD) for children.

Footage from an NSW Rural Fire Service helicopter showed parts of Sydney's north-west appearing to be like an inland sea.

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Eventually a boat arrived with help and Mr Saul managed to free 11 cows and two calves.

Towns in the area have already seen record rainfall of more than 300mm since yesterday morning, the bureau said.

Emergency crews had conducted at least 700 rescues and 9,000 insurance claims had been lodged already, he added.

On Tuesday, the country's biggest independent coal miner, Whitehaven Coal Ltd, said it was forced to stop shiploading at the port due to structural faults, while weather-related port restrictions were slowing ship movements.

Local authorities are urging people not to drive through flooded areas as they could get easily swept away by the strong currents.

In Emu Heights near heavily affected Penrith, one resident filmed a kangaroo swimming through floodwaters in a backyard, as submerged streets were turned to rivers, Nine News reported.

Major flooding is occurring along the Colo River in the Hawkesbury region and the State Emergency Service ordered about 500 people in 200 homes to get out on Tuesday. Communities along the Hawkesbury River were bracing for the worst flooding in the area since 1961.

The intense summer of rain and floods in eastern Australia is a stark contrast to a year ago, when numerous same areas were scorched by mammoth bushfires and ravaged by drought. "It's a hard situation we're in but many of our neighbours have had it far worse".

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