Peak to come: A Qld town’s ‘worst-ever’ floods seen from the air, as residents flee


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Residents of Burketown in north-west Queensland face an anxious wait as murky water slowly floods their community ahead of an expected peak.

Some 45 locals took their last chance to evacuate on Saturday but others chose to stay despite warnings to get out, with sewerage and power turned off due to flood risks.

Most of those who left were flown by helicopter to nearby Doomadgee and then more than 300 kilometres south to Mount Isa.

Footage taken from a helicopter above the flood zone on Saturday showed the town and surrounding areas were already flooded.

Properties, roads and other infrastructure were inundated, with several aircraft shown perched on a rare strip of elevated concrete.

This is Burketown’s worst flooding on record, with the Albert River surpassing the 6.78-metre record of 2011.

The disaster is expected to peak on Sunday, although Superintendent Tom Armitt told the ABC it was unclear exactly when that would be as the water level had already surpassed flood modelling.

“We don’t know how much ground will be left if the water continues to peak and cover all the ground,” he said on Saturday.

“If we get to the stage where we are having to shift and move people to rooftops, that makes a whole different level of complexity. ”

A forecast for severe thunderstorms and rain in south-east Queensland was downgraded on Saturday, but heavy falls are still possible.

Several towns, cattle stations an isolated settlements in the southeast gulf of Carpentaria remain cut off and are relying on supplies sent by air or barge after weeks of torrential rain.

Air-delivered supplies

Weeks of torrential rain have overwhelmed the region’s rivers, leaving dozens of communities such as Doomadgee, Normanton and Karumba stranded on islands amid a vast inland sea.

Those towns as well as more isolated settlements and outlying cattle stations are relying on food and other supplies being sent by air and on barges.

The danger of the late-season monsoon has moved south but is expected to weaken at the weekend.

It is expected to bring scattered to widespread showers and isolated thunderstorms to the central and southern districts, with a one-in-four chance Brisbane will receive 60 millimetres.

A severe thunderstorm warning in the Capricornia district was cancelled on Saturday morning after Yeppoon copped 100 millimetres in the hour to 4.11am, and 215 millimetres across the night.

Gladstone received 96mm over two hours.

Seqwater had warned releases from the Somerset Dam into the Wivenhoe Dam on the Upper Brisbane River were possible due to forecast rainfall. However, that was later cancelled.

Wappa Dam on the South Maroochy River was spilling on Saturday morning.


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