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Massive dam overflow threatens further N Qld flooding

Friday February 6, 2009 - 19:43 EDT
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The Burdekin Falls Dam spills over. - ABC

So much water is spilling out of the Burdekin Falls dam in north Queensland that it would fill Sydney Harbour every five hours and there are fears more rain could cause widespread flooding in the region.

The weather bureau is tracking a low pressure system that is bringing heavy rain to much of Queensland's far north.

The system crossed the coast near Innisfail earlier this afternoon and is slowly moving south-south-west.

Weather forecaster Gavin Holcombe says the low will stay in the area for at least another few days.

"I really can't see a good decrease in the rain until about Monday," he said.

Queensland's Natural Resources and Water Minister, Craig Wallace, says the Burdekin could end up under water.

"I've got some grave fears that if we do have very wet weather this weekend it may push water levels in the lower Burdekin higher," he said.

He says his department is monitoring the situation closely and the State Emergency Service is on standby in case flooding occurs.

The Bruce Highway between Cairns and Innisfail is cut and flood warnings have been issued for at least seven rivers.

The Flinders Highway between Townsville and Charters Towers is closed. Flooding has cut the road at the Macrossan Bridge.

It will stay closed overnight and a decision will be made tomorrow about whether it can re-open.

North Queenslanders have begun cleaning up as the floodwaters recede.

Emergency Management Queensland has teams on standby to begin the massive clean-up and Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts says it will be a long process.

"Fatigue management is a key issue so we'll rotate them as time goes by," he said.

The owner of the original Pub With No Beer, Mark Doyle, is serving coffee to emergency crews.

"We might be the pub with no grub soon, because we're running out of food very quickly," he said.

"You've got to become very creative with the food to feed the troops".

The State Government is promising to rush food supplies to all affected areas, with many communities still isolated, including Townsville, Ayr and Home Hill.

Some highways have reopened to four-wheel drives and fresh food supplies are expected by tomorrow.

- ABC

© ABC 2008

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