Several small Queensland towns are struggling to cope in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Marcia as the focus on the clean-up remains on the bigger centres of Yeppoon and Rockhampton.
The category five system tore through coastal Yeppoon, then hit Rockhampton as a category three storm before moving south toward Biloela, south-west of Gladstone.
The small town of Biloela remains cut off in all directions, with virtually no communications in or out after 200 homes were flooded on Friday night.
Banana Shire Mayor Ron Carige hit out at Telstra, saying the local disaster centre could not reach state emergency authorities to provide updates.
Cr Carige described the situation as “pathetic” and said Biloela was hit by similar communication problems in the 2013 flood.
He said Telstra had guaranteed it would never happen again.
He said he had received a text message from Deputy Premier Jackie Trad seeking a discussion about disaster relief arrangements but he had been unable to talk to her.
A Telstra spokeswoman said they were doing all they could to restore phone and internet services.
Cr Carige said the flooding in Biloela was the worst they had ever seen.
Cyclone Marcia was a category one system as it moved south from Rockhampton and passed east of Biloela.
Flooding in the town was largely a result of water being released from nearby Callide Dam, where the flood gates opened automatically as the catchment reached 90 per cent of its capacity.
Biloela remains isolated on Sunday, with the Dawson and Burnett highways cut in all directions.
Many nearby small communities and properties were isolated, and the town had not received food supplies since Thursday.
Power the urgent issue in Yeppoon, Rockhampton
Restoring electricity and essential services is the focus of the clean-up effort in central Queensland.
At the height of the disaster, up to 100,000 properties were blacked out across the networks run by Energex and Ergon Energy, Queensland’s Fire and Emergency Services said.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced disaster funding for affected residents in Rockhampton, Livingstone and Banana shires Sunday morning.
She said 1,500 homes had some kind of structural damage in central Queensland and about 100 had severe structural damage in Yeppoon and Rockhampton, where people could not go back to their homes.
Recovery hubs would be open from 2pm in Yeppoon’s town hall and Rockhampton’s Walter Reid Centre to help those 100 families who lost their homes and offer emergency assistance payments.
There was also significant structural damage to the bridge that connected Biloela to Gladstone.
Chief health officer Jeannette Young warned diseases and skin infections were a danger in contaminated floodwaters.
“The water that’s come through with the cyclone is heavily contaminated with mud that has a lot of organisms in it,” Dr Young said.
“Cover yourself up, good solid footwear. If you’ve got any cuts, even minor abrasions, cover them with waterproof bandages and really have a good clean and make sure you disinfect any cuts.”
Joint Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements funding has been initiated by @JoAnnMillerMP this morning to assist communities.
— AnnastaciaPalaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) February 22, 2015
About 50,000 customers were still without power by Sunday morning and the SES received more than 6,000 calls for assistance.
Ergon said the damage to infrastructure in central Queensland meant many people could be blacked out for several weeks.
The category five cyclone battered the region after making landfall about 7:30am (AEST) near Shoalwater Bay, between St Lawrence and Yeppoon, on Friday.
It was a category three system when it reached Rockhampton, about 40 kilometres inland from Yeppoon.
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