Thursday 29 March 2018

More rain on the way for flood-struck Queensland

Queensland weather: More rain on the way for flooded communities in state's north

29 March, 2018

Floodwaters have begun to settle in north Queensland, but the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says another rainfall event for Central to North Queensland is quite possible.

BOM said the Herbert River had a local peak in Ingham last night of about 11.9 metres, which is just below major flood levels, sending water through properties to the east of Ingham but no water through the main township.

The same system caused Cairns' worst flooding in a generation earlier this week, and has left many areas between Cairns and Ingham cut off.

The Ingham community has rallied to support travellers who have been trapped in town for three days as the district copes with its second flood in three weeks.

The Bruce Highway opened south of Ingham about 7:30am, but remains closed to the north.

Last night the local pool offered free showers for the hundreds of travellers stuck in town.

Hinchinbrook Mayor Ramo Jayo said there had been little damage.

"As it transpired the river peaked at Ingham pump station at 11.9 metres, so it didn't actually get to 12 which was a relief," he said.

"Halifax also peaked at 5.47 metres and at that level some houses would have received some water in their yards and there was one report of water going through a house lower down on Mona."

The heavy rain and concerns about flooding have led to the closure of several state schools in north and far north Queensland.

Education Queensland said parents should check its school closures website for the most up-to-date information.

Those with children at independent and Catholic schools are advised to check with the individual schools about their arrangements.

Disaster assistance has also been activated for producers affected by the recent heavy rains across north Queensland in the shire council areas of Hinchinbrook, Cassowary Coast, Cloncurry and McKinlay.

Anger, confusion about highway water levels

Cr Jayo said there had been some anger and confusion in the community about the closure of the Bruce Highway.

He said there were conflicting reports from the Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) and locals on the ground about the level of water on the highway, and late yesterday the council's disaster control centre had taken hundreds of calls from angry travellers.

"There is a significant amount of angst over that highway and reports that there was no water, but there was a lot of water, so we need to get that stuff sorted out," he said.

"The frustration has been that people are hearing there is only an inch or two of water on the road but the DTMR advice and evidence was that there was up to 500 millimetres of water over the road.

"There's conflicting information coming out and obviously that what's causing a major source of concern and angst and people were getting very irate.

"We have to get to the bottom of it — if the information out there is inaccurate we've got to stop it, or if the information is accurate, we've got to sort it out."

More rain on the way

The focus has now shifted to ex-Tropical Cyclone Iris in the Coral Sea, which threatens to dump heavy rainfall somewhere along the Queensland coast.

BOM forecaster Livio Regano said the system in the Coral Sea was heading towards the coast and would shift north soon.

"The problem is that we thought we had a handle on where it was going to go, and now it's not so sure anymore," Mr Regano said.

"It looks as though there'll be another rainfall event this weekend, especially late in the weekend, Easter Sunday or Easter Monday.

"Whether all the heavy rainfall will be in the far north, or it could end up being on the central coast, will depend very critically on where this low ends up

"So to be on the cautious side, expect increasing rain this weekend.

"But the chances that we get the really heavy falls that we thought are getting less and less."

Ingham stocking up

A baker at Brumby's Ingham, Tiffany Martin, said the town had been running out of baking supplies when the authorities lent a hand.

"Late yesterday afternoon the police came with emergency supplies of flour and pies," Ms Martin said.

"We're hoping to sell out of a lot of bread because we've done like 62 white cafe and 36 white sandwich [loaves]."

Ms Martin said despite the floodwaters, it had been bonza for business.

"They're stocking up as well not knowing if they're going to be able to get in or not, so we've been selling out quite a bit," she said.

"They just don't know if they're going to be stranded or not so it's hard to predict."

The rain 'is insane'

Laetitia Herrod, whose family has a farm at Murray Flats, south of Tully, said the floods have had a major impact.

Ninety per cent of Laetitia Herrod's family farm at Murray Flats, south of Tully has been flooded.

"Anything you do on the farm is pretty much just to keep everything water out of machinery, stuff like that — they're not getting anything done farm-wise," she said.

"As far as the cane is concerned, my father-in-law said we're going to take a 30 per cent profit loss with this month alone.

"What we've had this month is insane, nothing we've ever seen."

Ms Herrod said nearly 90 per cent of the property has been flooded, leaving little dry land for their cattle.

"If the rain doesn't let up, we'll start seeing cattle drop off over the next few weeks," she said.

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