Thousands flee Sydney homes as floods worsen

STORY: Torrential rains battered Australia's east coast on Tuesday making a flood crisis in Sydney worse.

Around 50,000 people across New South Wales - most in Sydney's west - were ordered to leave their homes after rivers swiftly rose past danger levels.

New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet warned people to stay alert.

"Wherever you are, please be careful when you're driving on our roads. Obviously there is still substantial risks for flash flooding across our state."

The federal government declared the floods a natural disaster, helping flood-hit residents receive emergency funding support and the risk of flooding could remain through the week.

Among the most vulnerable in need of rescue are animals.

On Tuesday, horses and cows swam with water up to their necks in search of higher ground in Sydney's outskirts.

Farmer Wayne Xuvrev said the water came up quickly, forcing farmers to act fast.

"Obviously we have got to get them out now, so it's happened. It's happened overnight and yeah, we have got to get them out."

The State Emergency Service joined in to help.

"Yeah, it was really difficult with multiple animals in the water."

Emergency services boarded rafts, lassoing the animals and pulling them through floodwater to safety.

Several places received more than Australia's annual average rainfall in three days.

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