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13 May 2022, 11:04 PM UTC

Rain easing over saturated Queensland as flood alert remains for Gympie, Warwick, BOM says

Rain easing over saturated Queensland as flood alert remains for Gympie, Warwick, BOM says
Source: ABC
South-east Queensland is bracing for another day of heavy rain and possible flash flooding as the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) warns the weather system that was predicted to dissipate will dump more rain over saturated areas. The severe weather system has prompted residents in the Gympie and Warwick regions to prepare to evacuate as some face inundation for the second time in recent months. Emergency alerts were issued for residents in the Gympie and Scenic Rim regions on Friday as heavy rain inundated already saturated catchments. It comes amid a growing list of emergency weather warnings, including severe weather, major flooding and hazardous surf alerts. Emergency services minister Mark Ryan said although weather conditions were easing in south-east Queensland, the region is not "out of the woods yet". "There is some significant risks around those river catchments and also in coastal areas," he said. "So I'm pleading with everyone: although it look like the rain might be stopping for the moment or easting at the moment, please keep your kids out of rivers and creeks." Acting state disaster coordinator Shane Chelepy said the Queensland disaster management system is still activated across parts of the state. Personal hardship disaster assistance has been activated to help flood-affected residents in the Lockyer Valley and Southern Downs to cover the costs of immediate essential needs, such as food, temporary accommodation, clothing and medication. The Brisbane, Fraser Coast, Gladstone, Gold Coast, Gympie, Lockyer Valley, Logan, Moreton Bay, North Burnett, South Burnett, Southern Downs and Toowoomba local government areas have been activated for counter disaster operations assistance to cover the costs of the immediate clean-up efforts. 'Tough time' for Gympie business owners' The Mary River at Gympie reached 16.01 meters just after 6pm, after it was predicted to peak just below 16 meters.  Gympie Mayor Glen Hartwig said the river would likely peak between 8pm and 10pm on Saturday night.  He said he "won't be surprised if it reaches 16.3 or 16.5 [meters]".  "By tomorrow morning we will have seen the worst of this," he said.  Mr Hartwig said a peak of 16 metres would put four homes at risk of going under water. "It's heartbreaking for the businesses impacted ? it's a tough time for them but the community will always be together," he said. Mr Hartwig said it is the third major weather event in the last five months for the region, which has been financially impacted by the loss of trade and the COVID pandemic. Roads to Gympie are now cut off due to rising floodwater levels, which are expected to recede over the weekend. "If you are travelling from the south or from the north, you will not get through Gympie. If you can find a place to stay before you reach Gympie, you need to do that," Mr Hartwig said. "There is no chance that you will make it through Gympie and staying out is your best option." A community recovery hub has been opened on Mellor Street. BOM said the Mary River at Maryborough was likely to remain below the minor flood level until Saturday evening. The river level may reach the minor flood level of 5 metres from late on Saturday. However, Lamington Bridge on Maryborough-Hervey Bay Road at Maryborough was closed on Saturday afternoon due to flooding. The SES responded to almost 120 calls for help overnight. More than half the calls for help came from the North Coast region. Nine adults and nine children were evacuated from Pomona State School by swiftwater rescue crews yesterday afternoon. Further inland, four people isolated by floodwaters were boated to safety at Warwick, and a woman stranded in her car was rescued by swiftwater technicians at Laidley. Hundreds of residents in Laidley and Grantham had water on their properties on Friday, prompting eight evacuation centres to open in the region. Businesses in the Laidley CBD were inundated and homes threatened as the main road to the town was cut off. Business owners in Laidley, west of Brisbane, have been cleaning up after the main street went under on Friday. Local real estate owner Darryl Muckert managed to sandbag the office and board up the door before the creek broke its banks. "We were lucky we didn't get any water inside our office," Mr Muckert said. He said the damage was not as bad as previous floods. "2011 and 2013 were both big floods and far bigger than what occurred yesterday," he said. Newsagent Rebecca McGrath had water over the floor boards, but managed to open her store this morning, with the help of friends. "I'm not going to lie, it was definitely a stressful few hours," she said. "We've just got some wet carpet and a little bit of mud to clean up, but we feel like we've dodged a bullet that's for sure." Warwick cut off In the state's south east, the town of Warwick was cut off by floodwaters, but the water has receded after the Condamine River peaked about 3pm on Friday. Eighty-seven buildings were affected by the Condamine flooding and 49 people were forced to evacuate. However, Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi said the evacuation centre was now closed and a majority of people had now returned to their homes.  "Everyone's dry and more and has got food tonight," he said.  "The real extent of the damage will be known in a few days, but anything that can be started has been started. "I think largely people are feeling that we've dodged a bullet in many respects. Yes, there has been a lot of impact, but not as much as it could have been, so I think they're grateful for that." Creeks in the Grantham and Lockyer Valley area are stabilising, and two people remained in a place of shelter this morning. In other parts of the Southern Downs, floodwaters have receded, showing major damage to roads and bridges. BOM forecaster Matt Collopy said rainfall levels dropped overnight, as 10 to 20 millimetres of rain came down over the south-east region. "That easing trend is good news and it will continue to move through today," he said. Another 10 to 20mm of rain is expected on Saturday, with isolated falls of up to 40 millimetres in some areas. "Whilst that is good news, we still have major flooding across multiple river systems across the south-east and through the interior of Queensland," he said. "So we plead with people to keep up to date with warnings." Police Superintendent Mick Sawrey in Wide Bay said authorities responded to two flood rescues in the region, on the back of several flood operations on Friday. All beaches in south-east Queensland are closed as there is risk of dangerous surf and coastal erosion due to strong easterly winds and large swells. In Far North Queensland, three people were airlifted to safety early this morning after their car was stuck in floodwaters west of Cairns. In Agnes Water, Priscilla Uhr gave birth to a baby girl at her surf instructor's home before being flown to Gladstone Hospital on Friday evening. Both Tableland Road and Fingerboard Road in the town remain closed. The Brisbane River peaked at 1.61 metres at 8am on Saturday morning's high tide, just below the minor flood level of 1.7 metres. At 11am the river level was 1.11 metre and falling with the tide. In Brisbane, a man was rescued from the roof of his car in floodwaters at Brookfield last night. "This is different from the previous event [in February] in that we were forecasting moderate to major flooding in Brisbane," she said. "However, I keep saying this is an evolving situation, so while the most likely scenario is minor in the Brisbane River, we really want people to be across the warnings and the forecast and stay up to date." Ms Boekel said creeks around Brisbane were responding "very rapidly" to a lot less rainfall, prompting flash flooding amid "intense pockets of rainfall".