Two bodies have been reportedly found in a search for two men missing near floodwaters in north Queensland.
Townsville police had been appealing for public assistance to help locate two men who had last been seen on Monday on Ross River Road, Aitkenvale.
Local media reported on Tuesday afternoon that two bodies, believed to be the missing men, had been found in a Townsville drain.
The reports came as the flood crisis in the north Queensland city eased slightly on Tuesday, leaving residents to contemplate what they’ve lost and the long, messy clean up ahead.
Food and other supplies were on their way to Townsville after the Bruce Highway reopened, allowing a backlog of trucks to head for the city carrying much needed supplies of fruit, vegetables and other supplies.
While the flood risk will continue for the rest of the week, forecasters say an end to the disaster is in sight.
Residents have been told not to try to return to their sodden homes until authorities tell them it’s safe to do so.
So this is how Coles in Ayr looks when the Bruce Highway is cut between Ayr and Townsville…no bread and no milk pic.twitter.com/2KFvWG6jBq
— Shirley Bailey (@shirllbailey) February 1, 2019
The ongoing risks were clear overnight when Bluewater Creek in the city’s north copped 340 millimetres of rain, with almost 100 instances of emergency crews having to get people to safety.
A staggering 1.8 metres of rain has fallen on Upper Blue Water in the past week, but the Bureau of Meteorology was not able to immediately confirm if that might be an all-time record for Australia.
The monsoon trough that delivered disaster to Townsville has also generated floods in western Queensland, with farmers around Cloncurry, Mckinlay and Flinders shire reporting livestock losses.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Katarina Carroll said it was impossible to know how many homes had gone under across the city.
“It’s easily hundreds, it could be thousands,” she said, but added audit teams were being hampered by the enduring risk of flash floods hitting with each new deluge.
The Bureau of Meteorology said communities from Cardwell to Mackay could still receive heavy rain in coming days as the trough that brought the deluge to Townsville moves slowly south.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said a recovery centre had been opened in Townsville. Her agriculture minister will consult mayors in the state’s west about help for farmers.
“We’ve got a long way to go. I’m asking for people to have patience,” she said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison met flood victims on Tuesday morning, and said he felt for families who’d lost so much.
“It must just be heartbreaking,” he said.
So far almost 9000 people have applied for personal hardship grants.
Mr Morrison praised the resilience of flood survivors, and the dedication of the emergency services workers who have rescued hundreds of people from rising waters.
“I think is an extraordinary achievement and something that the people of Townsville can pat themselves on the back on,” he said.
They’ve held together and they’ve kept each other safe.”
Emergency services, the military and even other residents used boats, helicopters and council trucks to evacuate people from flooded suburbs as the rain continued to fall and the Ross River dam peaked at 250 per cent of capacity.
The rain was beginning to ease in Townsville by Tuesday lunchtime, but Mr Morrison said the extent of the clean-up required might not become apparent for days.
“I think people are in shock,” he said.
Mr Morrison said the federal government had approved a request from the Queensland government for assistance for those affected by the floods. But he warned there was a lengthy recovery process ahead.
“The real work is to make sure that they can get through the clean-up and rebuild their lives, and we know that … it’s just going to be tough for a while,” he said.