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Queensland weather: northern towns still on alert but flooding rain finally eases

Thursday March 1, 2018 - 21:01 EDT
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Keith Abrahams (far right) and some family members take shelter at a petrol station in Yabulu. - ABC

Parts of north Queensland remain on alert for flooding after a day of heavy rain across Townsville and surrounding areas.

Rain is finally starting to ease after falls of more than 350mm in some areas caused flash flooding.

Residents in the township of Giru, south-east of Townsville, are being urged to remain safe as the Haughton River remains at a record flood level.

At 7:15pm on Thursday night, the river level at Giru had peaked at a record 3.1 metres as upstream floodwaters arrived, with the Haughton expected to slowly fall back from the peak overnight.

Burdekin local disaster management group chair Lyn McLaughlin said no evacuations had been required as homes avoided inundation.

"We have ample supply, but we really are asking people to conserve it and still to boil water just as a precaution," she said.

Nearly 90 rain gauges in the Townsville area have recorded more than 100 millimetres of rainfall in the past 24 hours, with Bluewater on the city's northern outskirts receiving 358mm.

The region is being drenched, with a severe weather warning for heavy rain in place and emergency crews on standby for more flooding in north Queensland.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said after heavy falls overnight, conditions had eased slightly.

The low-pressure weather system has moved to the west away from the coast.

Townsville's Ross River dam rose from only 15 per cent of capacity early on Wednesday to more than 70 per cent on Thursday.

Senior forecaster Rick Threlfall said the deluge was a significant event.

"Up until 9:00am this morning, some places had another 360mm on top of what they'd already had previous to that," he said.

"For the event as a whole, some places, pretty isolated spots, they've had about 500 millimetres.

"We've seen major flooding on a couple of the rivers around the Townsville area.

"The Haughton [River] through Giru has been almost record-breaking."

State Emergency Service crews , receiving more than 50 tasks since Tuesday night.

Earlier, Keith Abrahams — from Bluewater, north of Townsville, where more than 350mm fell — said he and his family had to take shelter at the Caltex service station in the nearby suburb of Yabulu, after the Bruce Highway was closed northbound.

Mr Abrahams said he left to get sandbags on Thursday, but had not made it back in time and could not get home.

He said flash flooding from king tides and heavy rainfall had caused many low-lying houses in his area to go under.

Mr Abrahams said it was going to be hard to start from scratch if there was much damage to his property.

"A neighbour called me and let me know my house is under water," he said.

"I'm only 25 — I've got three kids and a mortgage and a house. Everything in that place I own — I'm not paying off, so for me to start from scratch is going to be hard."

Mr Abrahams said he would stay at his brother's place until he could get home.

The rain also triggered rockslides in the city of Townsville.

A geo-technical engineer was to inspect a site on The Strand, with roads around the area closed to traffic.

Townsville City Councillor Kurt Rehbein said there had been no other reports of serious damage.

"It's one of the old wet seasons we're used to years ago that we haven't had for so long — we're pretty good at handling them," Councillor Rehbein said

But Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford warned residents not to be complacent.

"Four swiftwater personnel entered the water at Whites Creek to check a vehicle and confirmed no-one was inside," he said.

"Once again, I'm strongly advising people that you can never be too careful when it comes to flooded waters. Remember — if it's flooded, forget it."

Mr Crawford also warned people to stay away from creeks and storm drains.

More showers possible on Friday

BOM senior forecaster Rick Threlfall said moderate flooding was expected to continue at Mt Bohle, with the catchment recording up to 310mm over 24 hours.

"Still very unstable across the Townsville area even through this afternoon and into Friday, so we could see further showers and possibly thunderstorms through Thursday and Friday," he said.

"But we're expecting the heavy and fairly persistent rainfall to gradually ease off."


© ABC 2018

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