Tuesday, 23 April, 2019

'Once in a century' floods hit northeast Australia

The landslide caused a retaining wall to collapse on Stanley Street Townsville. Source Ben Downie/7NewsMore The landslide caused a retaining wall to collapse on Stanley Street Townsville. Source Ben Downie/7NewsMore
Sandra Phillips | 04 February, 2019, 20:07

While there have been widespread downpours throughout north Queensland, the city of Townsville, which usually avoids mass rainfall, has received the brunt of the rain, with thousands of homes at risk of going under.

The Townsville Bulletin newspaper said low-lying properties were being flooded, and troops on boats were searching for residents in need of help.

Police, soldiers and emergency services were door-knocking on Saturday in Townsville, the epicentre of the one-in-100 year event, warning more water is on its way.

"We don't know when this event will end", Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said.

Between 400 and 500 homes have been inundated by floodwaters in Townsville, although there are fears 2000 more may have been damaged by water.

Almost four feet of rain has fallen across parts of Northeast Australia in the span of a week, forcing officials to open floodgates at a dam near the coastal city of Townsville to prevent a river from overflowing.

The authorities were forced to open floodgates late Sunday, unleashing what they called "dangerous and high velocity flows".

Ryan said numerous area's main access roads are submerged, with some properties and streets at least knee-deep in water.

"The conditions are changing rapidly, so if you're in one of the areas which will likely be hit by more rain in the coming hours and days, make sure you heed the warnings and stay safe".

State premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned the communities face more difficulties ahead.

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The Bureau of Meteorology said a slow-moving monsoonal trough was sitting above Queensland, with some areas expected to get more than a year's worth of rain before conditions ease.

"I've never seen anything like this", Townsville resident Chris Brookehouse told national broadcaster ABC, adding that his house was flooded with water more than one metre deep.

There has been a silver lining to the deluge, with drought-stricken farmers in western Queensland welcoming the soaking.

People have been told to seek shelter on higher ground.

Watch incredible footage of the dam being opened in the video above.

Intense rain with significant flash flooding is expected between Ingham and Bowen, and possibly as far south as Mackay, extending inland to Mt Isa near the Northern Territory border.

But that was before dam releases were doubled in anticipation of more rain, sending nearly 2000 cubic metres of water per second charging out of the Ross River Dam.

Authorities say that would potentially cause rapid flooding across the city.

"That water needs to go somewhere".

She also said the decision to close 58 schools and childcare centres was to ensure public safety.

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