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Widespread Australian floods displace residents, wildlife

NASA via Getty Images

A combination of two images released by the NASA Earth Observatory on January 7 and made with true color and infrared light, highlight the presence of water on the ground. Water is usually black in this type of image, but the rivers here are tainted blue by thick sediment. The most extreme flooding occurs where the Mackenzie and Dawson rivers flow together to form the Fitzroy River. Rivers in Australia's Fitzroy Basin were swollen when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA s Aqua satellite captured the top image on January 4, 2011. The lower image, taken on December 14, 2010, shows the basin before the flooding started. Australians were greeted by scenes of devastation as they picked through their flood-shattered homes, with forecasts of more heavy rain on January 7 threatening a multi-million dollar clean-up.

PATRICK HAMILTON / AFP - Getty Images

An aerial photo shows flooded farmland south of the flood disaster area of Rockhamption on January 6. More heavy rains were forecast for Australia's northeast, threatening to worsen flooding after besieged Rockhampton cut supplies to "irresponsible" residents refusing to leave.

DANIEL MUNOZ / Reuters

A girl prepares to disembark from a boat travelling in flood waters at Depot Hill in Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia January 6. Australia's record floods are causing catastrophic damage to infrastructure in the state of Queensland and have forced 75 percent of its coal mines, which fuel Asia's steel mills, to grind to a halt, Queensland's premier said on Wednesday.

Luke Marsden/Newspix/Rex

It's not only humans who are suffering due to the recent floods in Australia. Australian Bat Clinic and Wildlife Trauma Centre director Trish Wimberley and her carers have helped save 130 orphaned bats on the Gold Coast in past weeks. They saved 350 young bats during the 2008 storm season but this year think there's more going on than just wild weather. Carers have visited several bat 'camps' on the coast in recent weeks to find four-week-old babies on the ground covered in maggots and fly eggs. Trish said: "They're coming down to feed on the ground. That makes them vulnerable. It's not a natural occurrence and shows there is trouble in the environment. "Bats are a barometer to what is going on in the environment. They're our canaries down the coal mine". The surviving youngsters will be bottle fed and kept either hanging on clothes lines or in special intensive care units until they are ready to fly again in about four weeks.

This disaster has affected a huge section of the country and is the worst in 50 years. For more on the story click here.