First the mice came, then torrential rains and floods submerged parts of Australia. Now experts are warning of a true poison spider plague in the metropolis of Sydney. “The upcoming warm weather and high humidity are perfect conditions for a funnel-web spider boom in the coming days,” said the head of the Australian Reptile Park, Tim Faulkner, on Wednesday.
The floods in the Sydney region drove the animals from their traditional habitats and sought refuge in drier areas. “Unfortunately, this could mean that they could find their way into apartments and houses very soon,” warned Faulkner.
In the past few days, images of thousands of spiders had already spread on the Internet, crawling up close to fences and buildings while fleeing the water.
Population should catch spiders
Sydney funnel-web spiders are some of the most venomous spiders in the world and make their home in the Sydney region. To date, 13 deaths from funnel-web spider bites have been recorded. There have been no known deaths since an antidote program was introduced in the early 1980s.
The Australian Reptile Park, north of Sydney – which produces the antidote – called on people “who dare to do it” to catch wandering funnel-web spiders and deliver them to collection points.
The first fatality occurred in the devastating floods in southeast Australia. A man in the north-west of Sydney was surprised by the floods in his car and found dead in the vehicle, the police said on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister of the state of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, said in parliament that it was “simply a miracle” that there had been no deaths given the catastrophic situation.
Residents cut off from the outside world
In the flood areas in southeast Australia, the situation is not yet easing. In many regions, including in the south of the hard-hit state of New South Wales, water levels continued to rise on Tuesday.
Emergency services were among other things in action with helicopters and boats to help residents who were cut off from the outside world by the masses of water. In the Colo River area in particular, the water rose dramatically. 500 people were asked to leave their homes, the AAP news agency reported.
After days of heavy rain, 18,000 people had to be brought to safety, especially north of Sydney, since the weekend. The Prime Minister of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, announced a possible evacuation order for additional areas where 15,000 people live.
“We have to go on somehow”
Days of heavy rain had previously led to a catastrophic flood and the evacuation of entire villages. Houses, streets and fields sank in the floods. Many Australians have lost everything. “What can we do, we have to be strong,” said a woman near Sydney, whose house was flooded with brown water. “I have a 17-year-old daughter and she saw me collapse last night … we have to go on somehow.”
Many animals were also carried away by the floods. In the small town of Windsor near Sydney, helpers rescued an emu that is kept there as a pet. The ratite “Gookie” was pulled from the Hawkesbury River completely exhausted, reported the broadcaster 9News.
Berejiklian spoke of a «weather event that exceeds anything we could have imagined». It is already considered the worst flood in New South Wales in decades. Only last year had devastating fires raged in the region. Climate experts warned that serious natural disasters could recur more and more frequently in the future.
Some now hope for blue skies and sunshine
The south of New South Wales on the border with Victoria was now also affected. Floods and severe flooding were also reported from the tropical state of Queensland in the north-east of the country on Tuesday. For many regions, the end of the precipitation was not yet in sight.
For some areas, however, there was at least a temporary light on the horizon: the storm system with heavy rainfall and strong winds is moving fast, the newspaper “Sydney Morning Herald” quoted meteorologist Jane Golding as saying. Behind it it became clear in some places. “It seems unreal, but there will still be blue skies and sun in the afternoon in the west of Sydney and on the coast in the northeast of the region.” However, the situation remains unsafe and dangerous. (AFP / SDA / jmh)
Published: March 24th, 2021, 8:33 am
Last updated: March 24th, 2021, 8:44 am