Over the past week, record levels of rain have deluged Queensland in northeastern Australia, prompting emergency evacuations — as well as some surreal sights.
Hundreds of people have been forced to leave their homes in and around Townsville, a city on the coast of Queensland that has suffered the bulk of the unprecedented flooding. Nearly two feet of rain has fallen in the region since Jan. 26, the New York Times reported.
Residents have been spotted kayaking down veritable rivers where pavement used to be. Others caught off guard by the incessant downpour had to flee to their rooftops for immediate safety. Throughout the region, whole blocks of houses are half-submerged in murky water.
And then there are the animals.
The historic flooding has also displaced crocodiles and snakes, according to officials who issued a warning Monday of wayward reptiles in floodwaters. Already, some residents had posted pictures of crocodiles spotted in distinctly human environments.
“Cannot stress it enough to stay out of the water,” Townsville resident Erin Hahn wrote on Facebook on Sunday, beneath a picture of a crocodile at the end of her father’s driveway.
Several other Townsville residents spotted a crocodile seeking refuge above water on the trunk of a toppled tree.
Queensland officials warned residents Monday to expect crocodiles and snakes to turn up in “unexpected places” in the wake of the flooding. “Crocodiles prefer calmer waters and they may move around in search of a quiet place to wait for floodwaters to recede,” Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said in a statement. “Crocodiles may be seen crossing roads, and when flooding recedes, crocodiles can turn up in unusual places such as farm dams or waterholes where they have not been seen before.”
Enoch also reminded residents that snakes are “very good swimmers.”
“If you see a snake, don’t attempt to catch or remove it,” Enoch said. “It’s best to leave snakes alone to move on of their own accord, or you can contact a local licensed snake removalist if you need assistance.”
Residents who spot crocodiles should report them “for removal under the Queensland Crocodile Management Plan,” she added.
The Queensland Police tried a different, no less effective tactic to warn people to stay out of floodwaters for their own safety.
“If the thought of coming face to face with a crocodile isn’t deterrent enough, before you start playing in floodwaters you should always remember the distinct possibility you could be wading in your neighbor’s feces,” the police force tweeted Sunday. “Yes. Their feces.”
Floodwaters threatened to submerge up to 20,000 homes in Townsville, which has a population of about 175,000, officials said. On Sunday, officials decided to open the floodgates of the Ross River Dam to alleviate pressure, a move that flooded 2,000 more homes, the Guardian reported.
On Monday, the Queensland Bureau of Meteorology warned that risk of flooding throughout the region would continue through this week and into the next.
“There’s more water coming. We’re probably at a halfway point,” Townsville Police Chief Steve Munro told reporters Sunday, according to news.com.au. “We’re not through this yet. There’s still a way to go.”