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Flooding cuts roads, inundates homes on Western Downs, severe storms hit Sunshine Coast

Thursday February 13, 2020 - 01:32 EDT
ABC licensed image
Floodwater inundates Jandowae on Queensland's Western Downs. - ABC licensed

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued warnings for dangerous and "life-threatening" flash flooding around the Sunshine Coast after reports of "intense rainfall".



A warning was sent for areas between Noosa Heads and Caloundra, including the hinterland, with falls of 79 millimetres recorded in the hour to 9:45pm at Yandina Creek.

Elsewhere, there were reports of 76mm falling in an hour at Cooroy and by 11:00pm, the Sunshine Coast Airport had recorded 193mm since 9:00am.

Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued for parts of south-east Queensland.



Earlier, an emergency alert for flooding was issued to residents at Warra on Queensland's Western Downs as the deluge cuts off roads and impacts homes at nearby Jandowae.

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) said the emergency alert was issued at 2:30pm by the Western Downs Regional Council.

Authorities said the Jandowae Creek and Jimbour Plain were expected to peak in Warra during the night and cause major flooding, with properties in the area likely to be affected.

Residents are advised to warn their neighbours, secure belongings and prepare to leave.

At 7:53pm, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said slow-moving storms were likely to produce heavy rainfall that might lead to flash flooding on the Southeast Coast and parts of Wide Bay and Burnett and Darling Downs and Granite Belt forecast districts.

Locations affected included Warwick, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Gympie, Ipswich, Kingaroy, Coolangatta, Stanthorpe, Caboolture, Cleveland, Gatton and Jimboomba.



A caller to ABC Drive said the rail underpass near Nambour plaza, on the Sunshine Coast, was under water and several cars in the vicinity had been inundated.

He said police were on the scene trying to winch the vehicles out.



Earlier, the BOM said Myall Creek at Dalby was also expected to exceed the minor flood level of 2 metres.

The top rainfall total was at Woleebee, north-west of Miles, which recorded 12mm in 24 hours since 9:00am on Tuesday, and north of Dalby at Jinghi Jinghi, 102mm was recorded.

Western Downs Mayor Paul McVeigh has put residents at Warra on notice.

"We have two creeks feeding in towards Warra, which is the Jandowae Creek and the Cooranga Creek," he said.



"We've had some cars inundated and for some houses the garages have been inundated.

"But if you look at the benefit to the whole region, and the amount of rain, as an agricultural shire and a region that really does survive on agriculture and the small businesses that go along with that, this rain has been extremely beneficial."

Cr McVeigh said Jandowae had received 260 millimetres of rain, which caused the creek to overflow into the township.

"We've had some substantial flooding through Jandowae — it hasn't done a huge amount of damage," he said.

"At this stage we think there may have been about five houses impacted by some water near their floorboards and things like that.



"The Myall Creek, which Dalby is based around, we've had flooding since Sunday morning there, so we've been up and down with it and at the moment in Dalby; the Myall Creek is standing around 2.35 metres and we think it's quite stationary at that at the moment and we're monitoring that situation."

Cr McVeigh said despite the flooding, many people were happy to see the rain.

"I think that it's the old saying, isn't it? What's the best thing to break a drought and it's a great flood and I think we always say in agriculture, there's great benefits to rain," he said.



Joyce Newbould said her yard at Jandowae was already underwater but luckily her house was on stilts.

"Those that have lived here forever are just looking saying 'here we go again, we haven't had a flood for a while'," she said.

"But then there are others like that lady who just said her dad has never seen it so bad — not like this in 18 years. So I really don't know. I've only lived here for four years."



Roads cut

Police Inspector Graeme Paine said floodwaters had cut off roads in and out of Jandowae.

"We're liaising with the community and some of the service providers … to manage some of the issues that are arising," he said.

"Certainly the road situation changes quite frequently — at this stage there is water at the road but with the flow of water, that can change quite quickly and open the roads up — we don't foresee any long-term issues."



Jandowae grazier David Greenup said he received 130mm of rain overnight.

"It started here at around 10:00pm or so, and it went pretty much, reasonably solidly, all the way through until about 5:00am," Mr Greenup said.

"We sent messages to people last night, after midnight, to say that there was water coming [down Jandowae Creek].

"People are always saying we need a follow-up [of rain]— well, we've had that over the last two weeks."



Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio said authorities were doing preliminary preparations for evacuation centres in Oakey and Jondaryan.

"If we were to have a big rainfall event right now right across the catchment, I think you'd find that the majority of the water that would fall in that event would probably be flooding the area," Cr Antonio said.

"So the situation that we face now is probably not all that different to what we faced in 2011."



He said he does not believe the situation would be "as intense as it has been in recent days".

"That's a bit of comfort for us, but in saying that … we are prepared to do what we have to do to look after our people," he said.

"We are better prepared to face the flood situation than we've ever been, thanks to the 2011 event."

Dam levels rising

The rainfall has been topping up dams across the south-east, with Seqwater saying the combined capacity of the water grid is now more than 60 per cent, up more than 5 per cent in the past 12 days.



Meanwhile, near Bundaberg, Sunwater said there was no risk to the public from added pressure on the city's Paradise Dam.

The dam was reduced to 42 per cent capacity last year , and it is now 54 per cent full.

Sunwater chairman Leith Boully said water would be released from the dam in coming weeks.

"Under current and forecast conditions there is no safety risk for the community," she said.

"We will be able to reduce the level of the dam back to 42 per cent within a reasonable period of time, probably three to four weeks depending on how much water actually flows in from this point of time.

"We want to maintain the water level at 42 per cent for two reasons: one, to reduce the pressure on the wall, and secondly, we need it at that level to be able to undertake the works to reduce the wall by 5 metres."

Tropical Cyclone Uesi whips up waves

BOM forecaster Matt Bass said rain was much lighter in the Brisbane region.

"A few falls in the range of 20mm to 50mm down towards the Scenic Rim and the back of the Gold Coast and some around 50mm at the back of the Sunshine Coast as well, but for Brisbane itself generally light falls up to about 22mm up to about Samford," he said.



BOM also said Tropical Cyclone Uesi was unlikely to have much of an impact on Queensland, as it weakens as it moves across the Coral Sea towards Lord Howe Island.

The category three system is about 365 kilometres west of Noumea and is .



It is not expected to impact the mainland but could generate winds of up to 120 kilometres per hour late Thursday as it approaches Lord Howe Island.

Tropical Cyclone Uesi is likely to pass about 600 kilometres off the south-east coast on Thursday, possibly generating some strong winds along the coast.


- ABC

© ABC 2020

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