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Two rescued as wild weather whips Qld coast

Tuesday February 19, 2013 - 12:29 EDT

Two people had to be rescued from the roof of their car overnight on Queensland's Gold Coast after yesterday's downpour sparked flash flooding.

Workers camping in the hinterland rescued the pair from a flooded causeway after they tried to cross at Guanaba around 9:00pm (AEST) last night.

Both climbed onto their car roofs.

Workers camped nearby noticed the headlights and investigated.

One of the workers, Miles, says it all happened fairly quickly.

"All of a sudden there were people stuck in the middle of the causeway so we walked out and said, 'are you all right? and the next minute I'm waist deep in water dragging someone back," he said.

Fellow rescuer Andrew says conditions did cause some concern.

"It pushes you - we were getting hit by debris and that all the time, but we had a rope," he said.

"All of us were hanging on a rope - we were pretty safe."

Wild conditions

Heavy rain on the south-east Queensland coast has begun to ease but wild winds are predicted to fuel severe conditions.

The rain has sparked releases from Somerset and Wivenhoe dams in south-east Queensland.

Seqwater says Somerset reached 100 per cent storage capacity yesterday and there has since been more rain.

The releases are due to start this afternoon.

Up to 150 millimetres of rain has bucketed the already sodden Mary Valley, north of Brisbane, since early yesterday.

A warning has been issued for minor flooding in the Mary River and major flooding in Tinana Creek.

Most of the heavy rain has now moved out to sea but the weather bureau says there could still be some downpours today and tomorrow.

Weather bureau senior forecaster Ken Cato says the low pressure system could also produce gale force winds for parts of the Wide Bay-Burnett and the south-east coast.

"It's probably going to be worst on exposed parts of the coast and higher ground," he said.

The SES has received more than 130 calls for help stretching from the Burnett region to the Gold Coast.

Bureau spokesman Brett Harrison says a severe warning has been issued for today, with gale force winds expected to reach 100 kilometres an hour.

"We have already seen a wind gust at 91 kilometres per hour at Double Island Point this morning and dangerous surf will be developing through the day as well," he said.

"At the moment we have just started to see gale force winds affecting the coastal areas and they will intensify throughout the day and extend towards the Gold Coast during the afternoon as well."

Most Sunshine Coast beaches remain closed due to dangerous surf.

Local Disaster Management Group spokesman Alan Rogers says authorities are closely monitoring conditions.

"We don't believe that the wind will be as widespread or the damage from the wind will be as widespread as ex-tropical cyclone Oswald, but very dangerous surf conditions," he said.

"We will lose some more sand off our beaches and that's unfortunate, but that's the weather."

Gold Coast chief lifeguard Warren Young says the weather conditions have forced the closure of the city's beaches.

"We've had a look along the coast and look there's a lot of water moving around - the swell's on the way up," he said.

"A lot of wind and rain and visibility's poor so all the beaches are closed."

Emergency Management Queensland (EMQ) is urging people to remove any loose objects that could become missiles in today's gale force winds.

EMQ spokesman Derek Taylor says vegetation still lingering after last month's wild weather should be stored safely.

"Hopefully it is only small stuff but if there are large items or that around and if the winds do start to pick up, we would probably ask if people could try to secure that the best way possible," he said.

"Maybe if they could put it into a garage or something similar so that it is not likely to blow around or become a hazard.

"Anything that is sort of loose or lying around the house we would ask that it be secured."

Campers moved

Meanwhile, around 250 campers on Fraser Island off the state's south-east are being warned to leave or relocate to safer camp grounds with weather conditions across the Wide Bay expected to deteriorate in the next day.

Senior Ranger Bart Kelkar says the Central Station campsite has been closed.

"Rangers are visiting each campsite as we speak - we've asked campers to move on," he said.

"They can relocate to another sheltered camp ground nearby but we strongly ask them to consider leaving the island considering these conditions that are coming."

He says people should plan to get out during the next low tide.

"The main issue is the restricted beach access - people wanting to drive off on the beaches - they'll find there's no beach to travel," he said.

"The surf is predicted at four to five metres and breaking dangerously close into shore, so the next low tide will be at about 9:45am (AEST).

Gympie prepares

The Mary River at nearby Gympie in the south-east is predicted to reach 10 metres today.

A flood warning is also in place for Tinana Creek.

Three weeks ago about 150 homes and businesses went under when the Mary River burst its banks.

Hydrologist Jess Carey says about 150 millimetres of rain has drenched the region since yesterday.

He says the falls are easing but creeks and rivers will continue to rise.

"It's still rising in Six Mile Creek and upstream at Gympie in the Mary River so there's still another 12 hours of rise left in the Mary River," he said.

"We will obviously be updating that forecast throughout the day as we see those peaks recorded."

Residents and businesses are preparing for more wet weather.

Gympie Chamber of Commerce president Ben Ellington says after three flood events in the last year, locals know how to cope with heavy rain.

He says businesses are keeping a close eye on the situation.

"The fact that they have planned and they sort of know certain points where water comes either close to their business premises or into their business premises, they'd be prepared for those sort of events," he said.

"But of course they'll be keeping their eye on things and I think what they need to do is just keep looking at the data and make their move based on what they hear in conjunction with their own individual evacuation plans."

Gympie Mayor Ron Dyne says if the river gets to 10 metres, the Kidd Bridge, which connects to the city's south, will go under.

"Whenever the bridges goes under it's a concern because it cuts off some of the communications to the southern side of Gympie," he said.

"But there is an alternative - the Normandy Bridge - it's just makes some inconvenience for people that's all."


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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