News State Queensland Residents urged to seek higher ground as big wet shows no sign of slowing

Residents urged to seek higher ground as big wet shows no sign of slowing

A car was picked up by floodwaters at this house near Townsville. Photo: ABC
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Residents south of Townsville have been told to move to higher ground as north Queensland’s big wet continues.

People living near waterways at Alligator Creek, Nome and Julago have been warned their homes could go under as a monsoon trough dumps vast amounts of rain.

An evacuation centre has been opened at Alligator Creek Bowls Club for those with nowhere to go.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said another centre had reopened at Bluewater, north of the city, to help residents whose homes were flooded by more than a metre of water on Wednesday.

The warnings came as the weather bureau predicted six-hourly rainfall totals of up to 200 millimetres, with isolated heavier falls, in some parts of the Townsville region.

The Haughton River is expected to remain at major flood levels for days, isolating the small township of Giru with the closure of the Bruce Highway.

Two French tourists had a lucky escape after they drove their car into flood waters at Giru late on Wednesday. They sought refuge on the roof of their car before they could be rescued.

A school at Bluewater was also closed on Thursday. Up to 365 millimetres of rain was recorded at Upper Bluewater in the 24 hours to 9am Thursday.

There were multiple swift-water rescues in the area on Wednesday night. Authorities also went door-to-door, visiting at least 60 homes to check on residents.

Three or four more days of torrential rain are expected in the north and Ms Hill said people needed to stay alert and informed.

Townsville’s Ross River Dam is at 129 per cent of capacity, forcing operator SunWater to partially open its spill gates.

Ms Hill said the dam, which was built to mitigate flooding in the city’s south, was doing its job.

She said SunWater had modelled what would happen if the dam’s gates had to be opened fully.

“SunWater have an emergency action plan. We’ve got to trust them,” she said.

“I lived through what was called the Night of Noah in 1988,” she said, when the remnants of a cyclone caused vast flooding in Townsville.

“It’s not quite as bad as that but we’re waiting [to see what the weather does].”

The mayor urged people affected by the deluge to look after neighbours and be cautious following the earlier swift-water rescues.

People took to social media to thank their neighbours for helping in the emergency. Photo: Facebook/Rachael Emerson

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said up to a week of wet weather could lie ahead.

And while it had been challenging for the state’s north, she said rain had finally arrived in drought-hit western communities.

Floodwaters at a home in Bluewater pushed a shipping container on its side. Photo: Facebook/Greg Carpentier

Senior Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Lauren Pattie said a severe weather warning was current for the tropical coast.

“We do expect to see a fresh burst of the monsoon. It reinvigorates and because of that we start to see enhanced rainfall again for these regions and it continues pretty much for the entire week … so heavy falls up north,” she said.

Residents have also taken to social media to call for help from their neighbours.

“Thank you to all our Bluewater neighbours that pulled together to care for one another and rescue pets and livestock,” Rachael Emerson wrote in the Facebook group Bluewater News.

-with agencies