Flood toll to rise, weather hits Brisbane

13:00, Jan 11 2011
Australia Floods
A man drives his truck in floodwaters on a street in Depot Hill in Rockhampton, Queensland.
Australia Floods
A man rides a boat past a crane partially submerged by floodwaters at a train station in Rockhampton, Queensland.
Australia Floods
A man leaves the Fitzroy Hotel by boat in flooded Rockhampton, Queensland.
Australia Floods
People ride in boats in floodwaters on a street in Rockhampton, Queensland.
Australia Floods
A mailbox is submerged by floodwaters on a street in Rockhampton, Queensland.
Australia Floods
A couple carry the essentials as they walk through floodwaters in Rockhampton, Queensland.
Australia Floods
A man sits in the front of his boat as he navigates through floodwaters in Rockhampton, Queensland.
Australia Floods
Agricultural machinery on an island created by flood waters near Emerald in Queensland.
Rockhampton
Floodwaters in the Depot hill district of Rockhampton, Queensland, ahead of their predicted peak.
twitter flood
Flooding in Toowoomba reaches new peaks.
Toowoomba flood
Local residents inspect a road that collapsed when a flash flood swept through Toowoomba.
Toowoomba flood
Cars are partially submerged by a flash flood in Toowoomba, Queensland.
Toowoomba flood
A street is covered by a flash flood in Toowoomba, Queensland.
Toowoomba flood
People walk down a street affected by a flash flood in Toowoomba.
Toowoomba flood
People survey the damage after a flash flood tossed vehicles down a street in Toowoomba.
Toowoomba flood
A man is rescued by emergency workers after he was stranded clinging to a tree on a flooded street in Toowoomba.
Toowoomba flood
A man watches from in a lawn mower business as water flows past in Toowoomba.
Queensland floods
Flash floodwaters cover a street in Toowoomba, Queensland.
Toowoomba, Queensland
Flash floodwaters swamp a street in Toowoomba, Queensland.
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A flash flood sweeps cars against a bridge on a street in Toowoomba.
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A passenger in a car waves for assistance as a flash flood sweeps across an intersection in Toowoomba.
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Two State Emergency Service (SES) workers stand on the railway above destroyed vehicles after a flash flood swept through Toowoomba.
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A flash flood sweeps vehicles down a street in Toowoomba.
A man looks at the rising Brisbane River in central Brisbane.
A man looks at the rising Brisbane River in central Brisbane.
Workers in Brisbane watch the Brisbane River rise after heavy rain in in southeast Queensland.
Workers in Brisbane watch the Brisbane River rise after heavy rain in southeast Queensland.
Toowoomba flood
A woman is rescued from her car in Toowoomba.
Toowoomba flood
A vehicle is submerged as flash floods hit Toowoomba.
Toowoomba flood
Cars are left piled up after flash floods swept through Toowoomba.
Toowoomba flood
Toowoomba residents survey the damage after the flooding.
Toowoomba flood
A truck moves through floodwaters in Toowoomba as a woman sits stranded on top of her car.
Queensland flood map
QUEENSLAND FLOODS: Southeast Queensland cities and towns affected by flooding.
Sandbags are seen stacked in front of an electrical substation in Brisbane
Sandbags are seen stacked in front of an electrical substation in Brisbane.
Flood prepare
Sandbagging work in Brisbane.
Queensland floods
Teenagers tried to cross a swollen part of the Mary River in Maryborough when the current caught them and briefly caused some concern before they managed to get their own way out of difficulty.
Flood car
Flood victims take a light-hearted approach to their car stranding, enjoying a beer on the roof.
Australia Floods
Residents of Ipswich prepare for worst flooding in recent history by evacuating their houses, which are all expected to be submerged.
Australia Floods
Brisbane homes that may be in danger of flooding are sandbagged.
Australia Floods
Two-year-old Damien Vieritz gets ready for bed in the evacuation centre at the Ipswich Showgrounds.
Australia Floods
Residents of Grafton watch as the Clarence River reaches seven metres.
Australia Floods
Residents of Ipswich prepare for worst flooding in recent history by evacuating their houses, which were all expected to be submerged.
Australia Floods
A local looks on as the Brisbane River rises rapidly.
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Residents of Ipswich wake to the worst flooding in recent history.
Flood
Residents of West End, Brisbane, remove stock from a business.
Brisbane flooding
Brisbane's flooded Riverside precinct.
Suncorp Stadium
Suncorp Stadium, where the Wellington Phoenix was due to play the Brisbane Roar at the weekend.
Car in floods
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh says the mother and son seen stranded on a sinking car, are safe. However the father is missing.
Residents of Ipswich dealing with record flooding .
Residents of Ipswich dealing with record flooding .
A house surrounded by flood water in Lawrence.
A house surrounded by flood water in Lawrence.
Queensland flood
A boat that saved locals lives rests on railway tracks.
Queensland flood
Two boys paddle past a flooded house in North Ipswich after the record flooding.
Queensland flood
An enormous amount of water flows rapidly through the Brisbane CBD.
Queensland flood
Geese walk through damaged houses after the flood swept their home.
Queensland flood
A building which was severly damaged during the floods.
Queensland flood
Wivenhoe dam
Queensland flood
A restaurant floats into a bridge in Brisbane.
Brisbane's Riverwalk
Brisbane's floating Riverwalk was ripped from its mooring and torn into pieces overnight, with one 300-metre long piece causing the closure of the city's bridges.
Flood area map
This map shows the expected water levels versus traditional levels in the river.
Australia Floods
Reader Allan-John Marsh sends us this picture of people biking around flooded Brisbane.
Australia Floods
Stuff.co.nz reader Robert Knight sends us this picture of flooded central Ipswich.
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Brisbane city after river levels reached their peak.
Flooded Brisbane.
Flooded central Brisbane.
Flooded Brisbane.
The flooded CBD of Brisbane.
Brisbane Flooded
The flooded CBD of Brisbane.
Brisbane Flooded
Sharyn Avery looks at her shop underwater in Westend, Brisbane.
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Onlookers inspecting the damage on Merivale St in South Brisbane.
Queensland flood
Two men lift their boat over a fence as they travel through flooded streets.
Queensland flood
An oily film is seen in a flooded street in the Brisbane suburb of Toowong.
Queensland flood
A man drinks beer as he sits in the entrance to a flooded car repair workshop in Brisbane.
Queensland flood
A row of flooded eateries is seen in the Brisbane suburb of Saint Lucia.
Queensland flood
Residents paddle past a flooded house in the Brisbane suburb of Saint Lucia .
Queensland flood
Heavy equipment sits submerged in flood waters in an industrial area of Brisbane.
Flooded suburb west of Brisbane
A small boat travels through a flooded suburb west of Brisbane.
Brisbane Flooded
A road sign is visible on the flooded Ipswich motorway west of Brisbane.
Brisbane Flooded
Debris floats near a house submerged by flood waters west of Brisbane.

Brisbane is headed for its worst floods since 1893, as a tenth flood death is confirmed.

A disaster declaration had been made for the lower half of Queensland, including the greater Brisbane area, giving authorities forced evacuation powers if necessary.

As the floods entered Brisbane, immediate evacuations were underway in Strathpine and Caboolture north of Brisbane, amid warnings flood levels are expected to be greater than in 1974.

In Ipswich, southwest of Brisbane, more than 1000 residents have evacuated their homes as floodwaters continue to rise in the city.

The death toll of this week's devastating floods has risen to 10, with 78 still missing, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said tonight.

Are you caught in the flooding? Do you have photos? Email us at newstips@stuff.co.nz


Bligh confirmed the 10th death, a four-year-old boy who was swept away after he fell out of a boat near Marburg, west of Ipswich.

‘‘The best advice we have at this stage is that this boy’s life was lost during an attempt to rescue him and his family,’’ she said.

There is a strong suggestion the current death toll will rise.

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Bligh said the situation developing in Brisbane and Ipswich to the west was “frightening”, with evacuations under way ahead of the Brisbane River’s expected peak on Thursday.

“Ipswich and Brisbane are now facing their greatest threat and their toughest test in more than 35 years,” Bligh said.

“The current predictions indicate that the river will continue to rise into Thursday, with flood levels expected higher than the 1974 peak.”

Bligh said there would be large-scale impacts on Brisbane suburbs.

“We would expect to see 9000 properties affected significantly by this water level and more than 30,000 other properties having some impact,” she said.

“So we do expect to see large-scale impacts in suburbs around Brisbane.”

Depending on the extent of flooding over the next few days, up to 100,000 power customers could have their electricity cut.

In a statement, Energex said electricity sub-stations were mainly located in buildings close to the Brisbane River, which was expected to reach near-record levels during the next few days.

Lord Mayor Campbell Newman also warned that the worst of Brisbane’s flooding was yet to come, with Thursday likely to be "devastating".

Deputy Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said a disaster declaration had been made for the lower half of the state to include the greater Brisbane area.

‘‘As the premier said, this is not the time to baulk when you are asked to leave or asked to support emergency workers in the way we will help prepare the city for this certain flood event,’’ he said.

The powers allow police to forcibly remove people if necessary, Stewart said.

Newman said the rain had continued and the forecast for the expected flood impact had worsened since yesterday.

"The situation has obviously demonstratively deteriorated significantly," Newman said.

"Today [the flooding] is very significant, tomorrow is bad and Thursday is going to be devastating for the residents and businesses concerned."

EVACUATION IN IPSWICH

More than 1000 Ipswich residents have evacuated their homes as floodwaters continue to rise in the city.

The Bremer River is now expected to peak at more than 21 metres over night.

Hundreds of people have flocked to an evacuation centre at the Ipswich Showground with other locations, including the Ipswich Girls Grammar School, also opening its doors.

The swollen river is rushing through parts of the city and a number of streets are completely submerged under metres of water.

The majority of evacuees are from the suburb of North Ipswich and police are advising households near the Bremer River to consider leaving.

SES controller Arie van den Ende said today a child was killed when floodwaters hit the region.

"They got the mum but they couldn't get the kid [out of floodwaters]," he told AAP.

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said earlier up to one third of the city could be flooded when the Bremer River peaks.

Pisasale said there were "hundreds of streets" that would be closing.

"People have got to prepare for the worst," he said.

FAMILIES UNACCOUNTED FOR

Bligh has warned the death toll from the devastating floods that swept through the Toowoomba region yesterday may rise "quite dramatically", with whole families missing.

Her warning came after nine people were confirmed dead and 66 people were listed as missing, as continuing rain was blamed for hampering rescue efforts.

Bligh said "whole families" were unaccounted for after Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley were deluged yesterday.

"We're hoping and praying that many of those people have gone to safety overnight and will be found safe and well," she said.

"But given the circumstances we hold very grave concerns for many of those people.

"Many of the people who are stranded or unaccounted for are families and young children and some of those who have lost their lives overnight are young children, including a mother and two children in a vehicle."

She said authorities had searched all of the cars that had been swept away in Toowoomba and not located any additional people.

The other victims were a woman and two children who died in a vehicle at Grantham, a middle-aged man and a young man who died in the Murphys Creek area, and an elderly woman who died in her home at Helidon.

“Half of the [confirmed deaths] so far are children,” Ms Bligh said. “We have a grave and desperate situation in the Toowoomba and Lockyer Valley region.”

Bligh said it was clear Queensland was now mired in a very different sort of disaster.

‘‘It is testing our emergency resources and it will test us as a community and as people,’’ she said.

‘‘It might be breaking our hearts at the moment, but it will not break our will.’’

NO REPORTS OF MISSING KIWIS

New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said there were likely to be many New Zealanders in flood affected areas of Queensland, but so far there were no reports of any injured or missing Kiwis.

"We have received some enquiries about New Zealanders we are continuing to monitor the situation and are in touch with Australian authorities," a spokeswoman said.

The ministry asked those concerned about New Zealanders in the area to try to contact them directly in the first instance, and if unable to confirm their wellbeing, then call the ministry.

COMMUTERS RUSH TO LEAVE BRISBANE CBD

Earlier today, authorities pleaded for people not to panic as commuters rushed to leave the CBD on employers' orders.

Police advised there have been no forced evacuations in the CBD, however numerous employers have advised their workers to go home, including department stores Myer and David Jones in the Queen Street Mall.

Deputy Mayor Graham Quirk called for residents to remain clear-headed.

‘‘People need to be sensible and not panic, but they need to be prepared," Quirk said.

"What we’ve seen today is a fair bit of panic. We’ve had a significant departure of people from the CBD going back to their homes.”

An evacuation centre has been set up at the RNA Showgrounds at Bowen Hills for residents affected by floods.

A Brisbane City Council statement said the centre had been set up for those who wanted to evacuate of their own accord and could not be accommodated with family or friends.

Residents were advised to take their own pillows and sheets, medication, important documents and spare clothing. Pets were unable to be accommodated at the evacuation centre, council said.

BODIES FOUND

A woman and a boy were found dead in the Toowoomba CBD and a man and a boy were killed at nearby Murphys Creek after a massive body of water from weeks of heavy rain tore through the town.

Troy Campbell, of James Street Motor Inn in Toowoomba, said the dead woman and two boys, believed to be her sons, had been in trouble in front of his motel near the intersection of James and Kitchener streets.

He said one of the boys was rescued.

"There were some people who made [their] way out there and managed to get a hold of him. He had held on to the light in the middle of the intersection.

"He was out in the water with them for a good hour or so."

It is not known where the boy was taken to after that.

The woman, 42, and her son, 13, had been clinging to a tree at the same intersection when they were washed away just after 2pm, The Chronicle in Toowoomba reported.

Bligh described an "eight-metre wall of water" flowing down the Lockyer Valley from Toowoomba. "This is without doubt our darkest hour in the past fortnight," she said.

'LIKE A CYCLONE HAD GONE THROUGH'

Nine Network reporter Cameron Price is at Grantham, 100 kilometres west of Brisbane, and told the ABC the town had been devastated.

"The town is like a cyclone has gone through it," he said. "There are houses that are completely collapsed, cars that are halfway up trees, homes a kilometre away from where they were.

"The terrible news from here is that they took the bodies of two small children from the waters, they are the fifth and sixth victims here so far."

Toowoomba was unprepared for this event. The city of about 121,000 people sits about 700 metres above sea level on the crest of the Great Dividing Range.

Until last year it was gripped by a decade-long drought and was forced in 2009, when dam levels dropped to an all-time low of 7.7 per cent, to pump water from the Great Artesian Basin.

"Relatives and friends seeking information about people in these areas should phone 1300 993 191 to make inquiries and register their details," Queensland police said in a statement today.

Dramatic footage of rising flood waters:

- Brisbane Times with AAP