Dante Calliste with pet dog Kyah, 1 evacuate from Windsor Street, Hermit Park. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Dante Calliste with pet dog Kyah, 1 evacuate from Windsor Street, Hermit Park. Picture: Zak Simmonds

Townsville flood victims eligible for $1000 in Commonwealth relief

TOWNSVILLE residents will today wake to a devastating flood unlike anything the city has ever faced.

Late into the night emergency crews worked to rescue residents stranded on their roofs as the rapidly rising Ross River caused mass flash flooding in low lying suburbs.

An evacuation centre set up at Ignatius Park College reached capacity, while centres at Heatley Secondary College and North Shore remained busy into the night.

About 17,000 Townsville properties were without power overnight.
About 17,000 Townsville properties were without power overnight.

Thousands of people moved to higher ground just before the Ross River Dam spillway gates were fully opened at about 8pm, sending 2000 cubic metres of water per second hurtling toward the already-flooded suburbs downstream.

About 17,000 Townsville properties were without power as at 10pm Sunday and crocodiles were washed onto the streets.

All schools, childcare centres and courts are closed, and Townsville Hospital will only be providing acute care today.

 

Flood warnings have been issued for 20 Townsville suburbs and worst-case scenario modelling showed up to 20,000 properties could be inundated - about one quarter of the city's homes.

This includes Rosslea, Hermit Park, Railway Estate, Townsville City, Oonoonba, Idalia, Cluden, West End, Rowes Bay, Garbutt, Aitkenvale, Cranbrook, Currajong, Mysterton, Pimlico, Mundingburra, Douglas, Annandale, Kirwan and Thuringowa Central and South Townsville areas.

But there will be no time for residents to assess the damage of the overnight deluge as forecasters predict heavy rainfalls continue today and well into the week.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Gabriel Branescu said today's rainfall would be similar to Sunday, which included widespread falls of more than 100mm with isolated areas up to 340mm.

"There might be a peak of that activity (this) morning - between 9am and midday," he said. "There is a chance it could be over the dam again," he said.
About 305mm of rain was dumped over the Ross River Dam catchment on Sunday, pushing it to a record 244 per cent full.

Cowboys player Kurt Baptiste with his 5yo Bull Arab Meeko enjoying the flooded waters. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Cowboys player Kurt Baptiste with his 5yo Bull Arab Meeko enjoying the flooded waters. Picture: Alix Sweeney

Mr Branescu said there could be some reprieve on Tuesday but there's a chance rainfall will intensify again on Wednesday.

The record set during 1998's infamous "Night of Noah" floods has already been smashed, with more than 1.65m of raining falling in some parts of the region in the last 7 days.

The Bulletin can reveal an announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison today will bring some relief to residents, with assistance payments of $1000 for adults and $400 for children will be made available to North Queensland residents impacted by the floods.

The Federal Government's one-off Disaster Recovery Payment will be available through the Department of Human Services from Tuesday February 5.

Mr Morrison said he asked for the support to be activated "as quickly as possible".

"What we're seeing in and around Townsville is absolutely devastating for the families and community but more help is on its way," he said.

"I know the disaster is not over yet, but I have no doubt Townsville will emerge stronger than ever."

Mr Morrison said he had been getting "frequent briefings" and hoped to visit as soon as practicable.

"Townsville, like communities all across the country, bands together in times of crisis and these floods are no different," he said.

"The defence force personnel sandbagging and door knocking the area, the SES volunteers and local groups are all an incredible example of the community's resilience and I thank them for their extraordinary work so far."

Mayor Jenny Hill said it was impossible to provide complete certainty about rainfall levels and urged residents to follow directions from emergency services.

"We will continue to send out emergency alerts where we think there is going to be a risk, please heed those alerts," she said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk arrived in Townsville on Sunday afternoon to see the floods and visit residents in evacuation centres.

"I know tonight that all of Queensland is thinking about the Townsville community and they've got a great spirit up here and they know what to do.


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