Storm stretches rescuers in Queensland

Last updated 12:34 28/01/2013

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More than 200,000 homes are without power across Queensland as storm continues to hit hard.

Blenheim resident Jodie Keen is holed up in an apartment in Labrador, near Surfers Paradise, with her husband and four children. He took this video of the wild weather at 8pm last night Australia time.

 

Are you a Marlborough person living or on holiday in this area?  Tell us what it's like there today news@marlexpress.co.nz


Gympie police have recovered the body of a man swept away in flood waters yesterday.

The discovery comes as Premier Campbell Newman steps up the severity of the "very serious challenge" facing Queensland battling flooding from ex-tropical cyclone Oswald.

The 27-year-old man went missing west of Gympie, which is expecting a flood peak of 21 metres today.

Very strong winds and floods in Queensland's southeast have also cut power to 203,000 homes across the region. More than 2000 fallen powerlines have been reported across southeast Queensland, Energex said.

Many homes and businesses could be without power until tomorrow at the earliest, and some areas possibly without power until Wednesday.

More than 830 of these jobs were concentrated in the North Coast region, particularly around the flooded city of Bundaberg, where hundreds of homes and businesses have been inundated.

There were more than 550 jobs in the South East region, particularly around the Lockyer Valley, Laidley and the Gold Coast.

Brisbane also recorded a large number of requests for SES assistance, most commonly for leaking roofs, floodwater threatening property, sandbagging and fallen trees.

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service duty manager Richard Gory said rain and gale force winds have uprooted trees across the region, bringing down powerlines and flooding homes and streets overnight.

He said every available officer was on duty, and the fire service alone had responded to 590 calls for help, including 239 in the Brisbane region.

Newman said it was time for residents in the 3600 properties shown on new Brisbane Catchment flood maps to "take action" at a press conference this morning.

Though Newman again stressed the situation facing the capital would not be as bad as in 2011 in Brisbane, Bundaberg is likely to experience its worst flood on record.

This morning the Burnett River was at 8.7 metres and rising, with nine evacuation centres established in the city he said.

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But attempts to rescue about 30 people stranded on roofs were being hampered by "very swift, very dangerous water" flowing in the area.

Newman said six winch cable helicopters had been deployed with the support of army Black Hawks.

"Queensland is facing a very serious challenge right now," Newman said, with Laidley, Lockyer Creek and Bremer River standing as a "grave concern this morning".

Newman will visit the Lockyer Valley today, where evacuation orders are in place due to flooding in Lockyer Creek and Laidley Creek.

Meanwhile flood peaks moving through the Brisbane catchment would begin to impact residents at Ipswich and Brisbane from Monday, and residents could not afford to be complacent.

"If their properties are on [the flood maps] I must say this morning you must take action," Newman said.

"I believe this morning they will be impacted in Ipswich and along the Brisbane River."

The Bremer River in Ipswich is expected to peak above the January 2011 flood level of 11.7 metres by midday (local time) today.

Residents in areas that flooded two years ago are moving possessions higher, or moving out of affected streets altogether.

The Mary River at Gympie is expected to peak at 21 metres, higher than the 2011 level of 19.45 metres.

Meanwhile Rockhampton is preparing for a “very significant” flood event, with a flood peak moving down the river over the coming days.

Newman said the full impact would be be felt at the weekend.

Flood waters are also rising in the Gympie CBD, with suburbs in Maryborough already flooding and preparations under way for two evacuation centres to be established.

And while the situation was still unfolding across the state, Newman said the clean-up in some districts had already begun and called for support from the federal government. 

SES crews received 1800 calls for help in the 24 hours up to 4am today, with unforgiving winds bringing down trees and power lines.

About 1000 of those calls were from the southeast, with residents needing assistance sandbagging against floods, fixing leaky roofs and removing fallen power lines.

Police were searching for a man believed missing in waters at Greenbank.

The motorcyclist was swept off a bridge along Greenbank-Goodna Road about 11pm and attempts by passers-by to rescue him with ropes failed.

A Department of Community Safety spokesperson said 54 swift water rescues were carried out in the 24 hours to 9pm yesterday, with a further nine between 9pm and 4am.

However the spokesperson said most turned out to be "non-events" with the swift water team not required.

All southeast Queenslanders are being reminded to never drive through flooded roads and causeways, and to avoid driving if possible due to fallen power lines and heavy debris on the roads.

"This low pressure system which was Tropical Cyclone Oswald is now 150 kilometres west of Gympie,” said Weatherzone forecaster Brett Dutschke.

He said widespread persistent rainfalls had been recorded across the southeast, including up to 500 millimetres in the Gold Coast hinterland.

"Some parts between Brisbane and the Darling Downs have gotten heavier rains than they did two years ago," he said, citing Archerfield as an example. "Their 136 millimetres is their heaviest in eight years."

Dutschke said the strong winds were the main difference between this year’s event compared to 2011, with gusts about 120kmh still being recorded off Cape Moreton, and 90kmh across Brisbane and even into the Darling Downs.

"The wind has been very strong and damaging across a large area," he said.

Yesterday afternoon Police Commissioner Ian Stewart confirmed the state’s first flood death – an elderly man in the tornado-hit central Queensland city of Bundaberg.

The body of the 81-year-old man, who had been tending to his yacht, was recovered from waters in Burnett Heads.

There are still grave fears for a young man and woman missing in floodwaters, as well as a fisherman missing since Thursday night.

The young woman last seen driving into floodwaters at Pacific Haven near Hervey Bay on Sunday.

A 27-year-old man was swept away when he and two companions drove into flood waters at Widgee Creek near Gympie on Sunday morning. His two companions were rescued.

And a fisherman has been missing off Port Alma near Rockhampton since Thursday night.

- AAP

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