Fitzroy River continues rising amid 'sea of water'By Paul Robinson, Monday February 4, 2013 - 14:51 EDT
Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow says flooding of the Fitzroy River will be much shorter than in 2011 - but will arrive sooner than expected.
She says the river is still likely to peak at 8.5m, but will reach that height late on Friday.
The weather bureau had initially been predicting the peak would arrive on Saturday.
In the floods two years ago, the Fitzroy reached 9.2m and the city was cut off for two weeks.
But Councillor Strelow says the river should drop more quickly this time.
"Seems to have come in a few hours earlier, not higher just quicker," she said.
"We also see that as a blessing because we're believing that we'll have a fairly short sharp peak and that things will move away quickly.
"BOM [bureau of meteorology] are talking about being back to eight metres even by Monday.
"So short and sharp peak, we know where it's going but do prepare."
Parts of Quay Street are already cut near the CBD and Depot Hill resident and takeaway store owner Danny Kalksma says water levels are continuing to rise.
"It's like a sea of water around some houses just 200 metres down the street," he said.
"People were evacuated from that house down there. People here were starting to pack up everything under their houses and get it out of the water."
Mr Kalksma says residents are taking it in their stride.
"Yes they've got the 'she'll be right mate' attitude," he said.
"Even the children, they were wading through the water across this street here just to get some chips that they get regularly from me and then they go and paddle in the water.
"I don't know whether they're allowed to but they seem to be having a whale of a time."
Roads and beaches
The Rockhampton Regional Council says many roads across the region and some beaches have been battered by erosion because of floodwaters.
Councillor Tom Wyatt says he has been driving around his division to inspect the worst of the damage.
He says the beaches fared better than he thought they would.
"There's a bit of erosion at Kemp Beach, I think that's always happened and there's a little bit of erosion at Keppel Sands but with the rest of the beaches there's a bit of erosion but nothing like what we thought we'd have with these wild seas," he said.
"So the beaches haven't fared too badly. Like some of the areas along Kemp Beach we lost some trees and that's an ongoing thing."
Meanwhile, Rockhampton Deputy Mayor Tony Williams says he is disgusted by reports of profiteering by some retailers.
"People taking advantage in a situation like that is probably the lowest of lows ... it's something that we're [not] able to control but personally I think it's something that's really if people want to take advantage of someone while they're in distress or hardship, they've got a conscience to live with and I just couldn't support it," he said.
"I think it's pretty despicable really."
Residents of the small town of Stanwell, west of Rockhampton, have started cleaning up after several homes were inundated on Friday.
Terry Dale says he was unaware of the threat until he was alerted by a man in a boat.
"The water started rising, we were starting to move things up into the house and everything like that," he said.
"Before we knew it the house was getting flooded.
"Only for a bloke that happened to put a boat in the water and come over here and sung out, 'do you want to get out?' I said, 'oh no we're right'. He said, 'I heard it's going to get up higher'.
"He rescued me and my partner and our three dogs and then they rescued other people around the areas here."
Properties along the Boyne Valley near Gladstone were inundated after the Awoonga Dam overflowed on Friday.
Gladstone councillor Neil Ballentine has flown over the area by helicopter and says there is extensive damage.
"We've seen loss of livestock, there's tractors that have been washed out of sheds, four-wheelers that are a couple of hundred metres down the paddock, there's a lot of irrigation gear and pump sheds that have just gone missing, tanks, like a lot of fodder, round bales, small bales and lucerne, all gone," he said.
A central Queensland tourism body says tourist operators can expect further hits to business as Rockhampton prepares for Saturday's flood peak.
Capricorn Enterprise says highways cut by floodwaters severely damage tourism.
Chief executive Mary Carroll says it is tough for businesses to be experiencing this just two years after another major flood.
"The long weekend was pretty much seeing full occupancies, particularly on the Capricorn Coast and as well through Rockhampton," she said.
"Obviously most people cancelled their visits.
"It's certainly access in and out of Rockhampton that affects tourism. Tourism is not just leisure tourism, it's business tourism, so it's about moving people from point 'A' to 'B'."
Meanwhile, rail company Aurizon says coal rail lines to Gladstone could be closed for more than a week.
The Moura and Blackwater systems have been cut by ex-cyclone Oswald.
Further north, the Newlands and Goonyella lines are back to normal operations.
An Aurizon spokeswoman says crews are still unable to fully assess the situation because the rail line is under water.
However, she says at the moment they expect the Moura and Blackwater systems will reopen within seven to 10 days.
Freight operations along the coast have also been interrupted by flooding of the Queensland Rail network.
© ABC 2013
More breaking news
Large areas of southern Australia can expect a foggy start to the next few mornings, reducing visibility for the first few hours, even in the southeastern capitals.
The strongest southeasterly wind surge since last Dry Season has swept out any lingering sticky humidity from the summer over a large swathe of the central and eastern tropics.
As the mercury plummets across South Australia ahead of winter, coastal properties are preparing for the inevitable storm surges.