Residents in the Queensland town of Talgai were forced to evacuate immediately after a nearby dam failed late Friday.
While the risk from flooding is starting to reduce, there are still fears for twelve farms, says an engineer.
A resident spotted a 3.5m hole in the privately-owned Bolzan Quarry Dam on Friday afternoon, and after emergency repairs failed, residents in 250 homes in low-lying parts of the community were ordered to immediately evacuate via 5000 text messages and social media posts.
The Southern Downs Regional Council warned that the 430 megalitre dam was set to break, causing “dangerous downstream flooding” between Tolgai West Road and Dalrymple Creek Road.
An engineer has told authorities the risk of the Bolzan Quarry Dam has decreased, Southern Downs Regional councillor Cameron Gow said.
The council set up a temporary evacuation centre in nearby Warwick, until all evacuees were able to organise shelter with family or friends.
The Courier Mail reported that firefighting and SES crews attended the dam to try and patch up the leak after it first overflowed, but the dam burst again.
“So the dam has broken at the base of the dam and the water is coming out at a considerable rate of knots right now, and because the Dalrymple Creek is already in a moderate flood because we’ve had extensive rain, this water will come down that creek very, very quickly,” Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said late Friday night.
“The land is really flat so the water will just go out over that land and by the time it has got a bit downstream, it will have dissipated,” she told Toowoomba’s Chronicle newspaper late on Friday night.
“I have confidence in the people who live there. This is their land, they know what happens and they will do the right thing and know where to go.”
Once the damage was assessed in daylight, the area of concern was reduced.
“We were being as cautious as possible if there were to be a severe and sudden failure,” Mr Gow said.
Those evacuated from 12 properties – mainly grain and cattle farms – are not yet allowed to return home.
“The volume of water coming out of the hole is gradually starting to reduce,” Mr Gow said.
Days of downpours in southeast Queensland have led to flooding that is yet to subside.
On the Gold Coast, police are still searching for Yang Chen, 26, who disappeared in the hinterland area while walking near Gorge Falls in the Tallebudgera Valley earlier in the week.
Hazardous surf that has drawn surfers and onlookers to the Gold Coast was also due to settle overnight on Friday.
In northern Queensland, showers and thunderstorms are expected to break a severe heatwave that has gripped much of the region.
It’s predicted the sweltering conditions will peak on Saturday and ease from Sunday, while the rest of the state gets some much needed sunshine.
Temperatures in Townsville, Ayr and Woolshed were well into the 30s on Friday.
Melbourne is mopping up after intense rain lashed the city’s outer eastern and southeastern suburbs on Friday leading to flash flooding and fallen trees and cutting power to thousands of properties.
Parts of Victoria’s Gippsland and La Trobe Valley also experienced heavy rain as severe thunderstorms hit the state.
The State Emergency Service fielded 550 requests for help by 9.30pm Friday night, with 175 of them for flooding, 156 for building damage and 180 for trees that had come down.
Victoria’s fire-ravaged northeast is expected to experience a drenching when thunderstorms hit the region on Saturday.
Watch the Melbourne downpour below:
NSW flash flooding
More rain is expected to hit Sydney and parts of the New South Wales east coast from Saturday afternoon as ex-tropical cyclone Uesi moves south through the Tasman Sea.
Rain and thunderstorm activity is expected through the bushfire-ravaged South Coast, the Southern Tablelands and western Sydney.
Flood warnings also remain in place after the weekend’s wet weather deluge, particularly through the NSW Mid North Coast.
Flash flooding may also occur in the Tweed, Richmond, Wilson, Clarence, Bellinger, Macleay, Upper Nepean, Wyong, Tuggerah, Orara, Gwydir, Castlereagh, Paroo, Nambucca and Weir rivers.