Three in four homes in Qld town damaged by flood


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Vast tracts of Queensland’s northwest remain flooded as communities face a long wait to return to their homes and assess the damage.

Residents desperate to begin the massive clean-up have been urged to be cautious, with a number of saltwater crocodiles spotted near inundated towns.

The record-breaking weather event also closed the Barkly Highway, the only sealed stretch of bitumen linking Queensland to the Northern Territory, with repairs to take at least a week, authorities say.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned there would be heavy stock losses, and three-quarters or 37 of the houses in Burketown have water over the floorboards.

“Sadly, many properties have been flooded, and we can expect significant damage, as well as widespread stock and wildlife losses,” she told state parliament on Tuesday.

“Floodwaters are slowly receding. However, they will remain above major flood levels for much of this week, leaving some towns isolated for some time.”

Extended monsoonal rains have toppled rainfall records and caused extensive flooding across the region since December.

The Century Mine northeast of Mount Isa recorded 754mm in March with the Albert River at Burketown rising well above the record 6.78m in March 2011, and the Nicholson River reached 8.54m at Doomadgee, a height only eclipsed by all-time record of 9.15m in 1974.

“The towns of Doomadgee and Burketown have experienced record flooding leading to both towns being isolated,” the premier said.

“More than half the residents of Burketown were evacuated from the rising floodwaters.

“These two communities, as well as Urandangi, Mornington Island, Normanton, Gregory, Karumba and others in the region, have been isolated for long periods over this wet northern summer.”

Ms Palaszczuk said Queenslanders had been kept safe through the efforts of disaster management groups, police, fire and emergency services, council officers and local volunteers.

“In particular, I want to thank those officers who stayed in Burketown to manage evacuations and ensure the safety of residents and the pilots who ferried to safety well over 100 people.”

While flood levels continue to pose a risk in Mount Isa,  Police Senior Sergeant Adrian Rieck said recovery planning was underway.

“Support is available to affected communities and a number of air assets, including the RACQ Life Flights AW139 helicopter, are stationed nearby and on standby for health emergencies, and the transport of food, water and medical supplies,” he said.

The federal and state governments are offering disaster funding of up to $180 for individuals or $900 for families to cover personal essentials.

Loans for primary producers and small businesses of up to $250,000 are available for affected small businesses and primary producers in Burke, Carpentaria, Cloncurry, Doomadgee, Mornington and Mount Isa.

More rain and thunderstorms have been forecast for the northwest with flood warnings in place for Albert, Nicholson, Gregory, Leichhardt, and Flinders rivers.

Meteorologists have also warned there’s a moderate chance that a tropical cyclone could form in the Coral Sea next week.

“A tropical low is expected to form during the middle of the week near Vanuatu,” the Bureau of Meteorology said in its cyclone outlook.

“It is likely to remain east of the region throughout this week. It is possible that it moves westward and over the Coral Sea from the weekend.”


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