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Rockhampton warned to brace for Fitzroy River peak

Tuesday January 29, 2013 - 15:18 EDT

The Rockhampton Mayor says residents need to be preparing now for an expected peak of the Fitzroy River this weekend.

Margaret Strelow says the river is likely to reach about 8.35 metres, nearly a metre below the 2011 flood height.

The river is now at 7.6 metres and hydrologist Jess Carey says there is a lot of water coming from further upstream.

"A flood peak moving down the Connors Isaacs system, all those record floods in the Don and the Dee rivers are obviously on their way through, the Dawson River as well, so obviously the Fitzroy River at Rockhampton has been at quite a high level already," she said.

"Obviously those levels are going to ... remain relatively steady because it's such a huge river there but there will be some renewed rises later this week."

Councillor Strelow says she has seen significant damage to homes and properties across the region.

She says about 10 homes were severely affected in Bajool, south of Rockhampton.

"Bajool has had water up to the roof in one house, very strong currents of water that have caused very significant damage, dislocation," she said.

"People have lost everything, fridges, washing machines.

"There are families living in the railway station at the moment, they had broken in because it's high ground and they're going to need support."

Cr Strelow says the impacts of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald were widespread through the region.

"Basically it's the cyclone that wasn't at Yeppoon, it's the flood that's still coming in Rockhampton and it's the flash flood in so many other areas," she said.

"For communities in Rockhampton there's sandbags in various locations around the community, of course in other areas as well but of course Rockhampton will be looking at that rising river."

Bajool resident Daryl King says neighbours have been helping each other to get back on their feet and salvage what they can.

He says several homes were inundated.

"There'd been a dozen at least, maybe more in the outlying areas, nobody seems to know the full extent yet because today is probably the first day we've all come together to start helping people," he said.

"We're actually getting vehicles in and out. It's pretty devastating, people have lost everything, their livelihoods, they've lost everything."


The Banana Shire Mayor says residents are returning home from the evacuation centre in Jambin after floodwaters threatened the township over the weekend.

Ron Carige says the Biloela water treatment plant has been damaged and residents are now getting their water from bores.

"The situation or the crisis that we're having here at the moment is water," he said.

"Our water treatment plant has been shut down because of the quality of the water in the dam, so we're relying on bores to keep water up to the township of Biloela, so we're asking people to be very conservative with their water use."

He says the council is continuing to assess the damage around the region.

"The situation around Jambin is it's not accessible on the Burnett Highway but people are making their way back from the school back to their houses and properties and trying to get on with life and clean up as best they can," he said.

"We were having trouble getting into Baralaba but we reckon we'll get into there today.

"We'll be hitting the road at daylight this morning to try and get all the roads open as best we can."


Meanwhile, Telstra says it cannot rule out more disruptions in central Queensland as the flood emergency continues further south.

Damage to two vital cables cut telecommunications north of Gladstone.

The outage affected EFTPOS services, ATMs and some flights.

Telstra's May Boisen says repairs were hampered by flooding and power outages.

"I've been with this organisation for over 15 years and this has never happened since I've been in the role," she said.

However, as after any disaster we will review what we have in place and always look at improving services to our customers."

A tourist stranded in Rockhampton because of flooding says the lack of communication services makes the situation more difficult.

Janelle Harwood says she was trying to make it home to Hervey Bay when floodwaters cut the Bruce Highway south of the city.

She says they are preparing to be trapped for another few days.

"There's a real lack of information and TV is just ... focusing on Brisbane and not the country areas and they're hard hit," she said.

"There were some Asian people staying with us and the cultural thing, trying to tell them not to go anywhere was quite hard, they took off without food or water, I don't know how they'll cope."

Panic buying

A Rockhampton supermarket manager says if fresh stock does not arrive within a few days, they could be running very low.

Store supervisor Luke Skurray says shoppers have been panic buying since Friday and the loss of phones and internet added to the chaos.

He says they have had to manually process payments after their back up EFTPOS system crashed.

"It's caused quite a lot of issues with our phone lines and our EFTPOS," he said.

"EFTPOS transactions are very limited, it's very hard to get customers out the doors at the moment. Back-up is filling up so we're coming into a bit of unknown at the moment."


© ABC 2013

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