Animal rescuers race to reach pets, livestock stranded in Sydney floods

Animal rescuers are working around the clock to rescue and care for pets and livestock trapped in the floodwaters in western Sydney.

Using a boat to access parts of the Hawkesbury region under water, Crisis Animal Response and Evacuation NSW (CARE NSW) rescued kangaroos, dogs, horses and delivered food and supplies to stranded cows.

“They’re freezing cold, hypothermic and probably a little bit in shock as well,” animal rescuer Josh Robinson said.

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While the group has been able to rescue dozens of animals, many have not been so lucky.

Robinson described confrontational scenes, including the discovery of dead animals left behind on a property.

“They have goats, they have lambs there, they have poultry like chickens and peacocks, turkeys, which are unfortunately floating,” he said.

“Unfortunately, I’ve already seen a lot of dead animals and I’m sure there are a lot I haven’t seen yet.”

The Bureau of Meteorology said the Hawkesbury River peaked at 13.93 meters on Tuesday in Windsor, surpassing the March 2022 flood emergency when water levels reached 13.8 meters.

Robinson said many of the animal owners who applied for help from the service hadn’t believed warnings about the risk of flooding.

“The next minute they’re underwater crying for help,” he said.

make temporary houses

The Hawkesbury Pet Shelter in Windsor heeded the warnings and safely evacuated dogs and cats on Sunday afternoon.

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Anne Robbie from Windsor, New South Wales, poses at her home with Teddy, an orange cat who was rescued from
Anne Robbie of SAFE Rescue Hawkesbury organized homes for 18 cats. (ABC Radio Sydney: Declan Bowring)

Anne Robbie of Safe Rescue Hawkesbury organized temporary homes for 18 shelter cats.

“The response from the community was absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, some of the responders, at the time we had to evacuate, were isolated so we couldn’t get the cats to them,” he said.

“But luckily one of our local vets opened up on Sunday afternoon and boarded everyone we couldn’t accommodate.”

Ms. Robbie has long opened her Windsor home to shelter kittens and cats and is now caring for three additional cats who did not seem fazed by the drama.

Teddy the orange cat sits in his cage at an animal shelter in Windsor, New South Wales.
The emergency response to relocate animals has improved since the March floods, Ms Robbie said. (ABC Radio Sydney: Declan Bowring)

Dozens of dogs were also evacuated and are now housed at various facilities, including the Richmond Race Club and the Blacktown Animal Holding Facility.

It is the second time animals have had to be evacuated this year due to flooding and Ms Robbie said the emergency response had improved since the April floods.

With many roads flooded, it was not yet clear how much damage the shelter sustained and when the cats and dogs would be able to safely return to the shelter.

Ms. Robbie said cleanup could take some time if flood waters had breached the shelter, as it is next to a sewage treatment plant.

“We don’t want cats and dogs to go back into a toxic environment,” he said.

rain to relieve

Wet weather is expected to abate in Sydney as heavy rain moves north, but the State Emergency Service (SES) has warned that the Hawkesbury River could continue to rise in Windsor, North Richmond and Sackville.

At the edge of the water covering the Hawkesbury River Bridge in Windsor, many locals agreed this flood was worse than previous emergencies.

A bridge in Windsor is completely submerged during the July 2022 floods.
On Tuesday, the Hawkesbury River peaked higher in Windsor than the March 2022 flood.(ABC Radio Sydney: Declan Bowring)

Cathy Garner, who has lived in Windsor all her life, said she felt sorry for the thousands of people affected by the floods again.

“It’s very hard. I mean, four times in, what, four years? It’s a little more than you can take,” Ms. Garner said.

Karyn Notary took her two children to the edge of the floodwaters to “help them understand the enormity of the situation.”

“We need to teach them about mother nature. They need to understand that they are at the mercy of mother nature, we all are,” he said.

A health clinic is surrounded by floodwaters in Windsor.
Residents of Windsor have had to deal with flooding four times in four years. (ABC Sydney Radio: Declan Bowring)

Windsor local Paul Caleo said he sees the trauma and disruption to businesses and people’s lives when he sees the flooding.

“The first thing people say ‘well, we’ll clean it up and go back in,'” he said.

“But I am very aware that there are a lot of people who are quite exhausted this time.”

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