Queensland flooding could worsen with more heavy rain, dam releases

Queensland flooding could worsen with more heavy rain, dam releases

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February 02, 2019 11:02:33

North Queensland residents have already copped four days of heavy rain but they are being warned by authorities in Townsville the worst may be yet to come.

Key points:

  • Flash flooding from heavy rain could affect Torres Strait residents, alongside Cardwell, Innisfail and Tully
  • People have been urged to avoid walking or driving in flood zones
  • More rain will hit Townsville, where several suburbs are flood-affected

Falls of between 150mm and 200mm are predicted for Townsville today, with numerous suburbs already inundated by water releases from the city’s Ross River Dam amid what authorities are calling a one-in-100-year weather event.

The Army is on hand to help with sandbagging in the city’s south.

Evacuations are continuing in flooded areas of Townsville and in the suburb of Rosslea, sandbagging has made no difference, with homes under water and streets resembling canals.

Days of heavy rain have already caused extensive flash flooding in Townsville, Bluewater and Giru.

Townsville’s Ross River Dam is at 194 per cent of capacity, with the volume of water in the catchment having tripled since January 27.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said there had been further releases from the dam overnight “to ensure that we don’t put communities at the bottom of the dam at further risk of moderate and major flooding”.

“There were approximately 100 homes that were doorknocked in that risk area,” she said.

But she said less rain fell in the catchment overnight and that the dam’s spillway gates would not be opened further until after this morning’s high tide had receded.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Adam Blazak said heavy rain fell south-west of Townsville early on Saturday morning and would exacerbate flooding.

“We do have concerns right at the moment for Mt Margaret and the Upper Black River, we’ve seen really heavy rainfall there,” he said.

“We are expecting to see flash flooding for that river area so downstream from that needs to certainly take care.”

Heavy falls are expected to continue at least until Monday.

Meanwhile, in central western Queensland, four people were stranded in a car overnight near Middleton after floodwaters cut off the roads around them and made escape impossible.

Police coordinated a search and rescue operation after detecting an unregistered emergency beacon activation, and an air search from Cairns found two vehicles on the banks of the Diamantina River, one of which was partially underwater.

The rescue helicopter made contact with the group, who said they had plenty of provisions and were uninjured.

Meanwhile, Torres Strait residents are preparing for flooding, with a severe weather warning for tidal inundation also issued for the entire west Cape York Peninsula coast and parts of the Gulf Country.

Torres Strait Regional Authority chairman Pedro Stephen said some homes had already been inundated after last weekend’s wet weather and they were preparing for more to be evacuated.

“During this similar pattern last year we had to move over 40 people — not just in Poruma but also in Yam Island, Horn Island and Warraber — so we have to really keep a close watch on this,” he said.

Mr Stephen said the high tides would be the first real test for new geo-tech sandbags recently installed on Poruma Island, to protect the community of around 200 people.

Sandbagging begins as residents brace for flash flooding

Swiftwater rescue crews have been brought into the Cassowary Coast as the region prepares for possible flash flooding.

The Bureau of Meteorology is warning residents in Tully, Innisfail and Cardwell to prepare for up to 200 millimetres of rain as the persistent monsoonal trough once again begins to affect Cairns and areas to the south of the city.

Cassowary Coast residents picked up hundreds of sandbags in the past 48 hours in preparation for today’s downpour.

The region’s Mayor, John Kremastos, said Queensland Fire and Emergency Services deployed three swiftwater rescue crews to the region — one each for Cardwell, Tully and Innisfail.

Cr Kremastos said they were thinking of their neighbours in the Townsville region who were doing it tough.

“We wish them a speedy recovery and it’s a reminder for us to be vigilant,” he said.

He said despite constant warnings, several people in the region had already been spotted driving through floodwaters.

“It’s just downright stupid. They’re not only putting their own lives at risk, but also emergency crews in danger,” he said.













First posted

February 02, 2019 06:04:48

Contact Anna Hartley

stories from Queensland

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