RESIDENTS in low-lying parts of Rockhampton have been warned to prepare for what could be the biggest flood to hit the central Queensland town in almost a century.
Police Commissioner Ian Stewart has warned the Fitzroy River could reach 9.5 metres at Rockhampton, which would be the biggest flood to hit the city since 1918.
Lotus Creek Service Station, north of Marlborough, 100km west of Rockhampton, was destroyed by floodwaters after Cyclone Debbie. Now Rockhampton is bracing for more. Picture: Rockhampton Morning Bulletin
Source:Rockhampton Morning Bulletin
Mr Stewart warned those in low-lying areas to start moving their property to higher ground today.
“I’d encourage people to move now. Don’t wait until Monday or Tuesday,” he said today.
He said the Fitzroy is gradually rising and low-lying areas would begin to be cut off in the next couple of days.
The city’s airport is also likely to be inundated by some time on Monday, while roads in and out of the city could also be cut.
At 9.5 metres, the peak could surpass the levels of the 2011, 1991 and 1954 floods.
It is expected homes in the Depot Hill area and low-lying parts of Berserker, Allenstown and Kawana will be inundated when the Fitzroy reaches the major flood level of 8.5 metres on Monday afternoon.
Additional emergency services personnel are being moved into city as the river rises.
Major flooding has already been recorded in the Mackenzie, Connors and Isaac rivers that flow into the Fitzroy following heavy rainfall from ex-cyclone Debbie.
Already a lot of water around Rockhampton. About to get an update from Local Disaster Management Group with @CoPStewart & @TimNichollsMP pic.twitter.com/F9Waid2EYH
— AnnastaciaPalaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) April 1, 2017
Minor flooding has also occurred upstream in the Fitzroy, and major flooding is expected in the Yaamba area, north of Rockhampton, on Monday.
It comes as central Queensland families left devastated from the effects of Cyclone Debbie will be eligible to apply for up to $750 in a fresh round of natural disaster funding.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today announced the hardship grants of $150 per person or $750 for a family of five or more for people who have gone without power for five days or longer.
The funding is part of the immediate hardship assistance offered to people after electricity remained cut to 33,000 people across central Queensland today.
The Rockhampton Airport will close ahead of Monday’s predicted peak. Picture: Rockhampton Morning Bulletin Source:Rockhampton Morning Bulletin
The funding is offered so people are able to buy clothes, or replace food that was lost in the natural disaster.
“This is always set up to cater for these types of situations,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
It is on top of the $180 offered for individuals, or $900 for families, as part of the Federal Government’s natural disaster relief funding.
The Bruce Highway from Townsville to Mackay was in good condition today but efforts to restore power were hampered as access with heavy trucks through muddy fields slowed progress.
On the Whitsunday coastline, the area around Airlie Beach to about 40km west of there at Proserpine remained one of the worst effected areas after Cyclone Debbie ripped down electrical infrastructure through the region.
In Mackay, the area from Sarina to about 265km south west of there at Clermont continued to struggle without electricity or road access.
Energy Queensland have pulled Energex and Ergon employees from all over Queensland to assist with the crisis as they continued to steadily restore power to regional communities.
“They are a working as much as they possibly can to restore power as quickly as possible,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
It is understood generators will be set up tomorrow for residents in regions without power. However, Ms Palaszczuk was unable to pinpoint when everyone would have power restored.
“Everyone is working as quickly as possible,” Ms Palaszczuk said. “We know how important power is to people.”
Meanwhile, she praised Opposition Leader Tim Nichols at a joint press conference in Mackay for taking a bipartisan approach to the disaster relief.
Mr Nichols returned the compliment by describing the State Government response as “outstanding across the board.”
“Unfortunately we’ve just become all too good at being able to deal with disaster,” Mr Nichols said.
“But this is a time when we stand shoulder to shoulder with the Government in helping Queenslanders cope with the disaster and to face the prospects of rebuilding.”