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As it happened: Flood chaos hits Queensland

Friday April 26, 2013 - 14:54 EST

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has warned of potential flooding in Brisbane as ex-tropical cyclone Oswald tracks south.

The system has already wreaked havoc further north and Brisbane's dams are being drawn down in anticipation of huge rainfall totals this weekend.



Emergency crews have rescued several people from floodwaters across the state and are expecting a hectic weekend, with rainfalls of more than 400mm predicted for some areas, along with damaging winds of around 90kph.

Weather warnings for overnight Friday include:
a severe weather warning for heavy rain and damaging winds for the Capricornia, Wide Bay-Burnett, Central Highlands and Coalfields, the South-East Coast and parts of the Darling Downs and Granite Belt.
flood warnings have been issued for rivers on the North Tropical Coast, Herbert and Lower Burdekin, Central Coast, Capricornia, Wide Bay-Burnett, Darling Downs and Granite Belt.
a strong wind warning from Townsville to Bowen, and a gale warning extending from Bowen to Point Danger.

Look back at how the flood crisis unfolded on Friday. All times are in AEST.



9:42pm: A storm surge watch-and-act warning has been issued by the Moreton Bay Regional Council.

Some low-lying coastal areas may be at risk of inundation from storm tides on tomorrow‚??s high tide at 9am and again in the evening.

Suburbs at most risk of impact include Beachmere (township areas and marina), Donnybrook, Meldale, Toorbul, Sandstone Point (north of Bribie Island Road).

See the council's .

The Moreton Bay Regional Council has cancelled all three of its Australia Day events because of the expected severe weather.



9:00pm: Qld SES has issued an emergency alert for residents on Callide Creek.

The Banana Shire Council has advised an urgent flood release from the Callide Dam is expected to reach 1.5 metres and residents are advised to move to higher ground at the Jambin Hall.

For more information, visit the State Government's .



8:28pm: An air and sea search is continuing for two men reported missing in a fishing boat off Port Alma, south of Rockhampton.

Roads are closed across the region and Gladstone Mayor Gail Sellers says her city has been isolated by floodwaters.

"SES are coping extremely well, they have plenty of volunteers on board, ambulance the same, police even more so.

"We've closed the national parks, the Gladstone airport is open and operating extremely well.

"People will need to contact their airline to see if their flight is coming in."



7:52pm: From the photo desk:





7:24pm: Update from Ergon Energy via Twitter on the number of homes without power.

: "Crews working into the night to restore power. 5,862 customers in Rocky and 443 on the Capricorn Coast still without power."





6:48pm: The Bruce Highways is closed south of Rockhampton at the Yeppen roundabout, at the intersection with the Capricorn Highway.

Police says floodwaters are still rising and the motorway will remain closed overnight. They are urging motorists to avoid the area.



6:15pm: Ahead of the weekend drenching, Premier Campbell Newman urged Queenslanders in suburban areas to use common sense.

"Please, if it's flooded, forget it. The other thing, I urge parents and even grown-ups, stop kids playing in stormwater drains and creeks. It's a death sentence when this is going on. We do not want a tragedy.

"For younger people who think it might be fun to go sort of boogie boarding and the like, please don't do that as well. You could be swept down into a culvert and that'll be the end of you."



6:06pm: With up to 400mm of rain expected in some parts of south-east Queensland over the next two days, the state's Water Minister, Mark McArdle, has told SEQ Water to release 41,000 megalitres from Wivenhoe Dam and 8,000 megalitres from North Pine Dam.



5:34pm: Campers on Fraser Island are being advised to leave, as weather conditions worsen.

Ross Belcher from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, says most have already gone back to the mainland.

"We believe for people's own safety that the best thing for them, and we're not forcing that, but we're asking them to leave the park.

"We're also recommending that their best option is to probably depart Fraser Island temporarily."



4:40pm: Ergon Energy says power restoration is underway in Rockhampton now that the weather has improved.

The number of customers without power is now down to about 14,000.



4:22pm: VIDEO UPDATE: Part of the Bruce Highway north of Townsville has been washed away completely:



4:05pm: Gladstone is now isolated by floodwaters. The Bruce Highway to Gladstone is cut at the nearby town of Miriam Vale.

Floodwater has closed the northbound route to Rockhampton, and to the west, the Dawson Highway is shut at Catfish Creek, 50 kilometres away.

Rail services have been cancelled. The Gladstone Airport is still operating, but some flights have been scrapped.

Here's the Gladstone Mayor, Gail Sellers:



3:45pm: Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale says falls of up to 250mm are expected in the region over the weekend and residents need to be wary of flooded creeks.

"We've got two areas at Warrill Creek and Bundamba Creek. It's really important to keep an eye on those. We've got council monitoring them all the time, we're not going to get caught again.

"The ground is so dry and people are saying that we don't have anything to worry about but you've got to be cautious and we intend to take every precaution possible."

3:24pm: ABC Rural reports on the across Queensland in the past few days. They also speak to dairy farmer Robbie Radel who has been forced to pour thousands of litres of milk down the drain because the milk truck can't get through the floodwaters to collect it:

"We've just received a phone call from the milk company saying that unfortunately due to the big rain up north, our milk truck can't get here to pick us up so I'm about to go and let four-and-a-half thousand litres of milk go down the drain. We should have no problem claiming it on insurance. But it is heartbreaking to see."

3:06pm: ABC News24 weather man Graham Creed outlines the forecast for this weekend:



2:47pm: CQ Rescue says a man thought to be in a flooded vehicle near Middlemount has been found safe and well.

2:31pm: Rockhampton local Joan Chamberlain tells ABC News24 that waters are starting to recede there:



2:07pm: The CQ Rescue chopper is searching for a car reportedly washed off the road at a creek crossing north of Middlemount.

1:57pm: From the photo desk:



1:45pm: ABC Tropical North has issued this for the Isaac region around Mackay.

1:24pm: From the photo desk:



1:11pm: Sandbags are available for Brisbane residents at the Redfern St, Morningside and Shamrock St, Darra city council depots as well as the SES depot on Wilston Road, Newmarket.

They are also available at SES depots in Arana Hills, Bribie Island, Caboolture, Deception Bay, Petrie, Redcliffe and Woodford.

1:01pm: SEQ Water has just released its latest dam level information:
 Wivenhoe  91.6%
 Somerset 96.7%
 North Pine 91.8%
 Hinze 84.5%
 Baroon Pocket 73.6%
 Leslie Harrison 82.7%
 Ewen Maddock 57.4%
 Cooloolabin 82.3%
 Lake Kurwongbah 66.7%
 Lake MacDonald 68.0%
 Little Nerang 89.3%
 Wappa 91.0%

12:55pm: You can now for the latest flood updates in that region.

12:51pm: Forecaster Rob Webb says residents in Queensland's south-east need to keep up to date with warnings.

"We do look to see the potential for flash flooding in those areas, local flash flooding, particularly in urban areas, but I will stress that the condition is developing and as it develops we'll be watching closely and I'm urging people to keep an eye on the latest forecasts and warnings," he said.

12:41pm: Current Severe Weather Warning key points:


At 10am Oswald was around 50km east of Moranbah in central Queensland and moving south south-east at around 15kph.
Damaging wind gusts up to 90kph possible over the Wide Bay and Burnett, northern parts of the Darling Downs and Granite Belt.
Conditions expected to extend through to the NSW border over the weekend.
Heavy rainfall and possible flooding expected over the Wide Bay and Burnett district and coastal areas north of Brisbane today.
The rain and flood threat will extend through remaining parts of the Southeast Coast district late tonight or early Saturday.
Totals of more than 200mm in 24 hours are likely.
Coastal areas and the hinterland are expected to be the worst hit.
Tides will be higher than normal, with dangerous surf conditions.



12:38pm: Brisbane can expect 200mm to 300mm over the weekend. Scroll down to hear more from that media conference by Campbell Newman on what the weather will bring this weekend.

12:32pm: The Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service has been grounded due to the bad weather. They were due to take part in search for people missing at Wycarbah.

12:15pm: Watch that press conference from Campbell Newman:



12:07pm: In response to a reporter's question, Campbell Newman says he can't "categorically state" that there won't be a repeat of the 2011 floods in Brisbane:

"We live on a floodplain in south-east Queensland and flooding events will occur.

"That's what I'm saying today.

"I am saying that these creeks particularly are concerning me. We're not saying today, you know, all is well. We're saying be prepared, particularly for suburban creek flooding, low-lying areas."

12:05pm: The latest information from the weather bureau shows that some areas near Rockhampton recorded in excess of 550mm in the past 24 hours to 9:00am this morning.

11.55am: Authorities are going to drawdown 41,000 megalitres from Wivenhoe Dam starting this afternoon over a period of 24 hours, and 8,000 megalitres from North Pine Dam for 11 hours starting this afternoon.

Premier Campbell Newman says the drawdown will be "orderly, considered and sensible".

He says dams are much lower than they were in January 2011 but we will "take that opportunity to provide a bigger buffer".

"This is just to give extra security and peace of mind to people.

"Obviously we're very confident that we won't compromise the water supply, because we will be getting inflows that will clearly top it back up over the coming period of time to at least that 100 per cent level."



11.48am: Premier Campbell Newman says heavy rain is forecast for Brisbane this weekend, which could cause flooding in suburban creeks and stormwater drains.

He says that poses more of a threat than river floods like those of January 2011.

"I ask people to focus on that, rather on what people naturally might over the last few years like a river flood.

"If the road is flooded, forget it, please. We don't want people risking their lives in the emergency services area to save people who just shouldn't have driven into a flooded area.

"I urge parents [to] stop kids playing in stormwater drains and creeks. It's a death sentence when this is going on.

"We do not want a tragedy and for younger people who think it might be fun to go sort of boogie boarding and the like, please don't do that.

"You could be swept down into a culvert and that will be the end of you."

11.45am: Premier Campbell Newman has urged holidaymakers to act with caution this long weekend:

"There is the particular issue there is the issue of camping on Fraser Island. We're told there's some 300 campers there at the moment, but there are over 3,000 people booked to go there this weekend.

"The island is not closed, but it is clearly going to be a wet weekend.

"Remember what you heard about the high tides which will affect movement along those beaches, and also strong winds. People need to think about their travel plans. We don't want people to disrupt their holidays, but it could be a wet weekend."



11.40am: Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is giving a news conference on the flood crisis. You can .



11.35am: The Bureau of Meteorology has issued an updated severe weather warning. The forecasts districts of Wide Bay and Burnett, Southeast Coast and parts of the Darling Downs and Granite Belt are on alert for severe weather.

.

11.26am: A helicopter is being sent to rescue a ground of people caught in floodwaters at Wycarbah, south-west of Rockhampton.

Authorities received a call for help around 10.00am, but the SES says accessing the site is difficult due to rising floodwaters.

11.22am: Rockhampton residents Aaron, Justin and Tim have spoken to the ABC about the flooding.

They say the rain has dampened their plans to celebrate Australia Day with a game of cricket.



11.17am: The Rockhampton council has urged anyone with a car parked at the city's airport to move it right away. The council says the car park is about to flood.

11.12am: Reporter Josh Bavas says a boat carrying two people has gone missing amid the wild weather:

: "Emergency crews searching for a fishing boat off coast of Rockhampton. Was beginning to sink around midnight. No contact with 2 on board."



Authorities say the boat's skipper made a distressed phone call just before midnight to say his vessel was taking on water off Port Alma.

Police say rough conditions prevented a search being started last night, but air and sea searches are now underway.

11.10am: Rockhampton resident Ross, who lives at Scrubby Creek, has told the ABC there is flooding under his house.

"I've lived in north Queensland for seven years and I never saw this much rain in one day, and then to move back to Rocky and see this in the period we have, it's unbelievable."

11.03am: Baz Wattene, who lives at Grasstree Beach south of Mackay, has .

He says the force of the wind was much stronger that what he experienced during Cyclone Yasi:

"I thought oh my God, is the house going to come off the stays or the poles?

"Yasi was the same, when it came through you could feel it trying to lift things.

"This was probably five or six times stronger."

10.55am: From the photo desk: floodwaters surround a house in Kabra, west of Rockhampton.



10.36am: How do you prepare for a flood?

explains what to put in a survival kit, what emergency services to contact and what to do before, during and after a flood emergency.

.

10.34am: Marlina Whop filed this report from flood-affected Rockhampton:



10.20am: Shipments out of the Gladstone Harbour in central Queensland have been suspended due to the extreme weather.

The Transport Department says it is monitoring the situation and the suspension will remain until further notice.

10.02am: As the rain starts to ease in the far north, the state's Sunshine Coast is preparing for heavy rain over the weekend.

More than 400mm of rain could fall on some parts of the coast during the weekend.

The region's disaster coordinator Alan Rogers is asking people in low-lying areas to prepare their homes for possible flooding.

"Saturday there will be powerful surf obviously but Sunday it looks like it'll be at its peak.

"Certainly around the high tide we do expect the water to get right up to the coastal edge and could exceed the highest tide of the year.

"So it is something for coastal people to be careful of and stay well away from the water."

At Moreton Bay, mayor Allan Sutherland says SES depots in the area have been activated.

He says the council expects to make a decision about Australia Day celebrations later today.

9.50am: Rockhampton resident Mary Anne Drury says water in her street in Frenchville has left her isolated in her home:

"We have about two feet of water over the street.

"You really cannot access the road at all. We can't get out of our driveway.

"The surface of the road has lifted - it's standing up on its end in places. There's sheets of bitumen and the water is gushing against and sending geysers up into the air."

9.45am: The deluge has also damaged what was shaping up to be a bumper sugarcane crop in north Queensland.

Peter Sheedy from Herbert River Canegrowers says farmers face an anxious wait to see just how much damage has been done:

"It's fair to say that what we were expecting needs to be downgraded somewhat but the extent of that needs to be seen.

"We've really got to wait for the waters to subside for people to be able to get around their farms and to make a better assessment of what they see."

9.39am: A building being used by emergency services in Rockhampton has been partly engulfed by a landslide.

No one was in the Frenchville house at the time but mud and rocks are believed to have damaged the first floor.

9.30am: Brett Harrison, a senior forecaster with the Bureau of Meteorology, has told ABC News 24 that Rockhampton can expect another 12 hours of rain:

"Rockhampton has seen the highest daily rainfall for January. It has exceeded that in the month of February in the past, but for January, that is a record.

"Rockhampton itself is looking at getting at least another 100mm. 

"It is still continuing to rain and that is where the heaviest falls are at the moment, just to the north of the city.

"We do expect further rainfall throughout the rest of today, but by tomorrow, the heaviest falls are expected to be to the south of Rockhampton."



9.23am: This tweet from ABC weather reporter Vanessa O'Hanlon gives an in Queensland.

: "#QLD 24 hr rain totals. Samuel Hill 370mm, Rockhampton 349mm, Gladstone A. 272mm, Yepoon 350mm, Williamson 208mm #bigwet"



9.10am: The Bureau of Meteorology has issued , as well as a .

9.07am: Rockhampton Regional Council says aircraft are unable to take off or land at the city's airport due to heavy rain, poor visibility and low cloud.

The council says water is covering most roads in Yeppoon, and highways to the south and west of Rockhampton are closed.

Rail services between Bundaberg and Rockhampton have also been closed.



9.00am: This video shows the dramatic rescue of a teenager from floodwaters in Rockhampton.

Station officer Brett Williams says the 14-year-old boy is lucky to be alive:

"The current was so strong it just took him away."



8.55am: At least seven boats were washed ashore in the Whitsundays during yesterday's wild weather.

Bob Fenney sent in this photo of a boat which was dragged from its mooring by gale force winds in Airlie Beach.

If you're in an affected area, you can .



8.45am: Reporter Jacquie Mackay told ABC News 24 the rain has not let up in Rockhampton for 24 hours.

She also recounted a dramatic water rescue at Frenchman's Creek in North Rockhampton:

"I think they were just playing in the water, as boys want to do, and one of the boys got swept into the creek.

"Fortunately he was able to grab hold of a tree and police and the swift water rescue from the Queensland Fire and Rescue were very quickly on the scene.

"I was just speaking with one resident who was watching the whole thing unfold. She said her heart was in her mouth because once the boy was pulled out, in order to get out himself the swift water rescue officer had to basically let himself go from the ropes that were tying himself to the bank.

"He went under a bridge, fortunately cleared that and did bob up safely on the other side. It was very, very dramatic."

8.40am: The SES has u.

: "The #SES have attended 280 jobs in the past 24hrs. Take care & listen to warnings. If u require storm/flood assistance, call us on 132 500."

Queensland police are also . Here's a fun tweet they sent as floodwaters continued to rise last night:

: "Don't drive through flooded roads because #YOLO. If you hold up your end of the bargain, we'll never, ever use #YOLO again. Deal? #bigwet"

8.31am: Rockhampton recorded its highest daily rainfall since 1939 yesterday and there are warnings of heavy rain and flash flooding across the affected areas.

Early this morning there was severe flash flooding in the Yeppoon area, where 271mm of rain has been recorded since 9:00am yesterday.

The weather bureau says the flash flooding could reach areas north of Brisbane later today.

There are also warnings of winds up to 90kph in the Central Coast, Capricornia and Wide Bay and Burnett districts.



8.25am: Forecasters say the rains will start to increase over north-eastern New South Wales tomorrow, with severe conditions right through until early next week.

Four-day rain totals on the NSW north coast could be well over 400mm, particularly around the Coffs Harbour region.

8.20am: In the early hours of this morning there have been more than 20 swift water rescues.

SES crews rescued seven people from two flooded homes in Kabra, a woman and her child were freed from their car which was stranded near Middlemount, and people were also rescued from two cars at Bobs Creek south of Rockhampton.

A 14-year-old boy was also rescued from a swollen creek at Frenchville in Rockhampton around 7.30am.

Here is a photo of that rescue:



8.15am:More than 70 roads including the state's major highways are covered by water from Cairns in the far north to Bundaberg in the south-east.

This morning Queensland Rail said rail lines were closed from Rockhampton to Brisbane, and from Townsville to Cairns.

Emergency Management Queensland regional director Wayne Hepple says the State Emergency Service is on high alert:

"People need to be aware of what's going on out there."



8.10am: A Yeppoon resident told ABC radio about widespread flooding in the central coast town:

"We've had some flash flooding and the low-lying areas and those low-lying areas are still cut.

"We've got the high tide coming at eight o'clock so those low-lying areas will be impacted by that as well."

The far northern town of Ingham no longer remains cut off by flooding - it can be accessed from Townsville.

But north of Ingham the Bruce Highway is still cut off at Seymour River.



8.00am: Emergency services are preparing for the worst in Central Queensland where floodwaters have continued to rise all night.

Gladstone mayor Gail Sellers says there is no way to predict the duration of the flooding:

"How long is a piece of string?

"We don't know, we see expectations where it could be 300mm on Saturday, so that's phenomenal.

"The Bureau of Meteorology is saying they expect from Fraser Island north past Mackay will receive some significant rainfall.

"And that could be 100 to 200 millimetres of rain over the next 12 hours."


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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