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SE Qld flooding 'worst since 1974'

Posted May 21, 2009 12:34:00
Updated May 21, 2009 15:15:00

Queensland Deputy Premier Paul Lucas says the flood crisis in the state's south-east is the worst since the 1974 floods that devastated many parts of Brisbane.

There are still reports of flooding in many parts of the south-east although conditions have eased in Brisbane.

The severe weather is now focused on the southern Gold Coast, where a large wave has already turned a car into a sand sculpture.

State Emergency Service (SES) crews are still responding to about 1,000 calls for assistance, ranging from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast and west to Ipswich.

Mr Lucas has told State Parliament the flooding has been wide-ranging.

"The rain and subsequent flooding in south-east Queensland are the worst we've seen since 1974," he said.

Mr Lucas also paid tribute to emergency workers who have helped with the flood crisis.

"I'd like to offer a big thank you to everyone out helping south-east Queenslanders cope with the impact of this extreme weather event there - whether it is SES volunteers who laboured throughout the night to fix roofs, teachers who stayed back to look after stranded students, police who are out there directing traffic away from flooded homes - they all deserve our thanks," he said.

Premier Anna Bligh says she wants to create a more efficient warning system for residents in dangerous weather events.

Ms Bligh says schools used text messages to get hundreds of children home safety yesterday.

"I know that many, many schools across the region used text messaging to get parents to come and pick children up before roads were closed, so there's a lesson there I think and we should be picking it up as an idea," she said.

Ms Bligh says two more motorists were rescued this morning and authorities are becoming fed up.

"I think they've been reckless and stupid and they don't realise the danger they're putting themselves and their passengers in," she said.

"Swift water rescues are some of the most dangerous situations that our rescue workers face and we should be avoiding any risk to them and ourselves and our passengers."

Dam levels

Almost 10 per cent more water has been added to the south-east's three major dams in the past 24 hours.

SEQ Water spokesman Mike Foster says the combined total for Wivenhoe, Somerset and North Pine Dams has now jumped to more than 72 per cent and strong inflows are continuing.

"It's been an extraordinary 48 hours if you look at what's occurred since Monday," he said.

"Levels have actually risen in excess of 13 per cent, so in a 48-hour period we've actually had more than one year's additional supply in our system, so fairly extraordinary performance."

Coast hit

South-east Queensland councils are coordinating their responses to the flood disaster and preparing for the possibility of more rain.

The Gold Coast City Council is urging residents to secure loose items around their properties or units as the area continues to be buffeted by strong winds.

Patio furniture has been blown from balconies and a 47-year-old man died yesterday after he was hit by flying glass from a shattered office window in Surfers Paradise.

Council spokesman Ted Shepherd says it is important to pick up any items which could become missiles.

"We want things picked up and put away because people tend to be blase about what lies around their yard and even if it's a surf ski or whether it's a laundry trolley, really in these sorts of situations we need to secure them and make sure that they won't impact on anybody else," he said.

The pounding surf is causing erosion on Gold Coast beaches.

All beaches are closed for the second day as the south-east continues to feel the effects of the heavy weather.

Gold Coast chief lifeguard Warren Young says erosion could increase over the next few days.

"The ones that are usually a bit vulnerable such as Narrowneck up towards the pumping jetty, some areas of Palm Beach - they're just getting scarping at the moment but it could increase as the swell increases and the tides get bigger over the next few days," he said.

Clean-up

Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman says Council workers are clearing debris and filling potholes around the city.

He says at the height of yesterday's rain about 100 sewage pumping stations were discharging waste into waterways but he says the effluent is so diluted it does not pose a threat.

"It's 99.5 per cent water," he said.

Moreton Bay Mayor Allan Sutherland has pleaded with people to stay out of creeks and rivers.

"The water is running very, very fast," he said.

"Most of the major [roads] are now open with the exception of Bribie Island Road, Youngs Crossing Road at Petrie and of course one side of Gympie Road at Bald Hills is in operation and the other side is closed.

"We're looking this morning - there's debris everywhere across the lower side that's closed."

Ipswich

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale says the Bremer River is expected to peak above 11 metres today but no homes are in danger.

"It's the worst flood since 1996 for us," he said.

Some roads and bridges in the Ipswich area are closed, but homes are not under threat.

Councillor Pisasale has warned motorists to beware of fast-moving water, after a council worker had a narrow escape.

"One of our little council utes went to a low-lying road yesterday afternoon and was putting out the signs - as they were putting out the sign a wall of water came down the road and washed the car away," he said.

"Fortunately he wasn't in the car - that's how quickly mother nature reacts and we've got to be very, very careful."

Tags: disasters-and-accidents, floods, weather, rainfall, australia, nsw, qld, brisbane-4000, caboolture-4510, ipswich-4305, maroochydore-4558, southport-4215, toowoomba-4350

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