A group of school children and their teachers have been evacuated six days after becoming stranded by floodwaters in north Queensland.
More than 70 students and staff were cut off by floodwaters last Monday at the Echo Creek adventure park, near Tully.
Food, medical supplies and clothing was airlifted to the children on Saturday. They were all reunited with their families by Sunday evening.
“All of the children will be home eating dinner with their families tonight,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Sunday.
“It’s important to get them out now. There are fears more rain coming could have left them stranded for longer.”
This was the moment yesterday when army officers reached the stranded Townsville school kids in North Queensland. pic.twitter.com/ZfffBSus6S
— AnnastaciaPalaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) March 9, 2018
Most of the region had turned its focus from response to recovery on Sunday, but the Bureau of Meteorology warned of a potential cyclone loitering off northern waters.
Three children with gastro had been airlifted to Cairns on Saturday, but authorities decided it was safer to leave the remaining students where they were.
Two helicopters from Cairns were sent to airlift the group out on Sunday morning, but floodwaters had receded enough for them to be bussed to Tully airport.
From there they were flown to Townsville, where they were reunited with their families.
“The paramount concern of everybody was the safety and wellbeing of the children,” Superintendent Steve Munroe told ABC radio on Sunday.
A break in weather is allowing the kids on camp to get evacuated. It’s important to get them out now. There are fears more rain coming could have left them stranded for longer. pic.twitter.com/40lHjdysSQ
— AnnastaciaPalaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) March 11, 2018
“They’ve been away from their homes for an extended period of time. The kids have been kept in really good spirits thanks to really good efforts by the teachers who were with them.”
The area between Cairns and Townsville was declared a disaster zone by the state government after a week of torrential rain.
A large spider almost fell victim to the floods. Residents from Halifax, near Ingham, filmed a spider clinging to a branch over the Herbert River before moving it to safety.
My excitement for the day…saved a spider😊 Andrew Giliberto
Posted by Andrea Gofton on Saturday, March 10, 2018
Ms Palaszczuk travelled to the region on Sunday to assess the damage, along with Police Commissioner Ian Stewart and State Disaster Co-ordinator Deputy Commissioner Bob Gee.
More than 700mm of rain fell in a number of catchment areas in four days, with The Boulders, south of Cairns, receiving 1009mm in the seven days to 9am Saturday.
Over 200 homes were inundated at Ingham, where floodwaters started to recede on Saturday.
Ms Palaszczuk said the full extent of the damage caused by the rain would not be known for weeks, but that flooding would have a detrimental impact on banana and sugar cane crops, and the aquaculture industry.
Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford called on the community to remain patient and vigilant.
“There are still many swollen waterways and roads cut-off. Even though the flow of water may have decreased, the floodwaters will have carried a lot of debris which could still be hidden underwater,” Mr Crawford said.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said she intended to visit the affected areas once floodwater had receded.
Residents are reminded not to drive or walk through floodwaters.
The SES can be contacted for assistance on 132 500. In a life-threatening emergency call triple-0.