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Storm worsens flood damage

Army helicopters are on their way to the Queensland city of Rockhampton as water levels continue to rise.

One of Australia's largest defence aircraft has been deployed to help transport supplies to flood-stricken Rockhampton, while communities north of central Queensland also are facing a food crisis.

A C-130 Hercules laden with fresh produce, non-perishables and toiletries is flying backwards and forwards between Amberley Air Force base, west of Brisbane, to Mackay, in central Queensland, from where retailers are trucking the goods more than 300 kilometres into Rockhampton via the only road still open, the Bruce Highway.

Australian Defence Force joint taskforce commander, Colonel Luke Fraser, said two trips were made yesterday, two departed this morning and another was planned for this afternoon.

Flooding in Toowoomba. Click for more photos

Flood disaster surges on

Flooding in Toowoomba. Photo: Beau Rushton

  • Flooding in Toowoomba.
  • Flooding in Toowoomba.
  • Flooding in Toowoomba. Photo: @Claytonnnnn, Twitter
  • GardenTown Shopping Centre in Toowoomba.
  • Toowoomba flooding.
  • Floods cut the Bruce Highway just South of Gympie.
  • Floods cut the Bruce Highway just South of Gympie.
  • Floods cut the Bruce Highway just South of Gympie.
  • Mary Smokes Creek looking D'Aguilar Highway towards Woodford. Photo: Michele Noth
  • Mary Smokes Creek looking towards Kilcoy. Photo: Michele Noth
  • Flooding at Kilcoy. Photo: Michele Noth
  • Flooding in southeast Queensland. Photo: Ronni Grevell
  • Flooding in southeast Queensland. Photo: Ronni Grevell
  • Flooding in southeast Queensland. Photo: Ronni Grevell
  • Flooding in southeast Queensland. Photo: Ronni Grevell
  • The flooded Mary River on Exhibition Road, Gympie, showing where two bridges were submerged by water on January 10. Photo: Jenny Nancarrow
  • The flooded Mary River on Exhibition Road, Gympie, showing where two bridges were submerged by water on January 10. Photo: Jenny Nancarrow
  • The flooded Mary River on Exhibition Road, Gympie, showing where two bridges were submerged by water on January 10. Photo: Jenny Nancarrow
  • Floodwaters at the junction of the Bruce Highway and Capricorn Highway, the main roads south of Rockhampton.
  • Hastings Dairy, which employs 600 people, is inundated with flood water in Rockhampton.
  • A man starts to clean up his hardware store affected by floods in Bundaberg.
  • A girl falls in the mud as her sister and father remove damaged belongings from their home affected by floods in Bundaberg.
  • Locals walk their dog through rising floodwaters that are  creeping into the business district of Rockhampton.
  • Rising floodwaters creep into the business district of Rockhampton.
  • Floodwaters in Rockhampton showing the railway lin heading south of the city.
  • A cow is stranded in floodwaters west of Rockhampton.
  • Neil Lindsey drinks a beer after travelling by boat from his isolated home in Depot Hill to the Pioneer Hotel in the floodwaters of Rockhampton.
  • Hay bales are surrounded by the floodwaters west of Rockhampton.
  • Crops are inundated by the rising floodwaters west of Rockhampton.
  • Floodwaters in Rockhampton cover one runway completely and have surrounded the other at the airport.
  • A speed sign is seen on a highway submerged in floodwaters in Rockhampton.
  • A flooding sign is seen partially submerged in floodwaters in Rockhampton.
  • Floodwaters surround the sewage treatment plant in Rockhampton.
  • Fred Manitzky walks across a plank to his neighbour's house to avoid having to wade through the rising floodwaters in Rockhampton.
  • People view flood water in North Rockhampton.
  • Alec Wood, left, and Dean Walsh, right, play in the flood water in North Rockhampton.
  • Police check the identites of Patricia Lavis and her mother in law, Beverley MacNamara, who were returning to their homes in Depot Hill in Rockhampton.
  • Philip Cranny, a pineapple grower, watches anxiously as a truck full of pineapples is loaded onto a barge, because road access out of Rockhampton is blocked due to the rising floodwaters.
  • A resident who had planned to stay in her home during the floods in Rockhampton leaves after her power was cut off without notice.
  • Sheets hang from a washing line surrounded by floodwater in Rockhampton.
  • Eric Dare is one of many residents who are electing to stay in their houses to protect them from looters in the flooded parts of Rockhampton.
  • A Keep Out sign is submerged in the floodwaters of Rockhampton.
  • A man attempts to fish from his home surrounded by floodwaters in Rockhampton.
  • Matthew Steffen plays a joke on passersby with his plastic crocodile in the floodwaters of Rockhampton.
  • Machinery in a coal mine surrounded by floodwaters in Baralaba, Queensland.
  • Boats are now the only way to travel through many of the flooded streets in Rockhampton.
  • The Fitzroy Hotel was in darkness after its power was shut off and its generator failed in the floodwaters of Rockhampton.
  • Floodwaters in Rockhampton are spreading as the river rises and starting to affect businesses downtown.
  • Locals wade through floodwaters to return to their home for the evening after visiting neighbours in North Rockhampton.
  • Paul Barnes and Mandy Greene with their sons, Patrick, right, and Bradley, wade through chest high flood water to return to their house to find their insurance documents in Rockhampton.
  • William Kerwitz, 6, enjoys the floodwaters in Rockhampton.
  • Mark Ford ferries his wife, Allison, home after a few beers on New Year's Eve in the Fitzroy Hotel surrounded by rising floodwaters in Rockhampton.
  • Extra police are on duty to protect residents who have had to evacuate from the rising floodwaters from looters in Rockhampton.
  • Lyn Pearce is one of many residents who are electing to stay in their houses surrounded by rising floodwaters so they can protect them from looters in Rockhampton.
  • Some residents are electing to stay in their houses surrounded by rising floodwaters to protect their properties from looters in Rockhampton.
  • Locals are tired of sightseers coming in to view their homes in the rising floodwaters in Rockhampton.
  • Floodwaters seen from a plane coming in to land at the airport in Rockhampton.
  • Mark Ford ferries his wife, Allison, home after a few beers on New Year's Eve.
  • Rachel Hillier and her friend Bek Bond returned to Rachel's Depot Hill home to rescue her dogs.
  • Dani Adams grabs her children after spotting a snake in the rising floodwaters in Rockhampton.
  • Residents in Rockhampton's Depot Hill district continue their New Year's celebrations.
  • Floodwaters seen from a plane coming in to land at the airport in Rockhampton.
  • Flooding across Queensland continues.
  • Flooding across Queensland continues in Chinchilla .
  • Flooding across Queensland continues in Chinchilla .
  • SES rescue Malcolm Smith from his flooded home in Chinchilla .
  • Flooding across Queensland continues in Chinchilla .
  • William Kerwitz enjoys the floodwaters in Rockhampton.
  • A man waits for rescue after stalling his car while attemting to drive through the floodwaters in Rockhampton.
  • William Kerwitz enjoys the floodwaters in Rockhampton.

"We are planning to continue these 'lifts' into Mackay tomorrow and we'll continue to work with Emergency Management Queensland about whether we'd need to continue this emergency lift in coming days," Colonel Fraser said.

"It's primarily non-perishable food items, so longlife milk, powered milk, toilet paper, all the simple basics that are relied on to keep the people of Rockhampton supplied."

About 80 Army and Air Force officers are engaged in various flood-relief exercises across the state, Colonel Fraser said. Navy helicopter personnel were on standby.

Meanwhile, three trucks worth of groceries are on a barge from Gladstone and due into Rockhampton by 2pm.

A total of 48 palettes worth of supplies - two trucks of non-perishables and one truck of fresh produce - are to be sold through IGA supermarkets.

United Retail Association president Scott Driscoll said the trucks were unable to reach the city from Brisbane via road and had driven onto a barge at Gladstone Marina about 7am.

They were due to arrive at Rosslyn Bay about 1pm, from where it was a 40-minute drive to the centre of Rockhampton if the road remained open.

The isolating floods throughout much of Central Queensland also have cut off food supplies to communities in the north, including Townsville, Cairns and indigenous communities.

Almost $5 million worth of groceries was packed onto a ship, the Pacific Adventurer, which left from the Port of Brisbane on New Year's Eve and is due to arrive in Townsville tomorrow.

The 100 palettes worth would then be distributed by road to towns in North Queensland.

Mr Driscoll said IGA retailers were absorbing the additional distribution costs, estimated to be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"This is being done at great expense to IGA retailers who have gone to great lengths to ensure people in those regions have access to food and stocks," he said.

"People are beginning to run out [so these supplies] could get soaked up more quickly than usual but we're looking for more windows of opportunity to get more stock out later in the week if that's possible.

"Whatever needs to be done will be done."