Brisbane braces for river peak (PHOTOS)
Residents and businesses in central Brisbane have escaped relatively unscathed after the Brisbane River peaked around 2m below predictions.
The river had been expected to peak at up to 2.5m this afternoon (NZ time), 20cm higher than Monday’s high tide but still about 2m lower than its last serious flood in January 2011.
Brisbane Mayor Graham Quirk says it is business as usual in the city, but doesn’t want people to be complacent.
The death toll from the flooding has risen to four – the latest victim a three-year-old boy, who died in hospital from head injuries he received when he was hit by a tree while flood-watching with his mother.
The weather has moved south, causing flooding in parts of northern New South Wales. Many major roads between Sydney and the Queensland border are closed, and an evacuation order has been issued for the city of Grafton.
But the Australian Bureau of Meteorology says conditions there will not be as bad as initially forecast, with rain and strong winds expected to die down in the Sydney area by this afternoon.
Bundaberg worst affected
The Burnett River in the Queensland city of Bundaberg is still rising, despite there being no rainfall in the area this morning.
“It’s a beautiful sunny day and yet this lethal threat continues to rise,” Queensland Police Minister Jack Dempsey told ABC News.
The river is expected to peak at a record high of 10 metres tonight or tomorrow morning – two metres higher than the 2010 floods, which at the time were the city’s worst in 60 years.
Authorities say around 2000 homes will be inundated.
Residents were given a full day’s warning to evacuate, but many of them stayed, causing emergency services to work through the night to airlift people stranded on the rooves of their houses.
Mr Dempsey says those rescues are continuing today. He says thousands of emergency service workers have been deployed throughout the state, including police who are monitoring people’s abandoned homes to “give them peace of mind while they are in evacuation centres”.
Ten high-dependency patients from Bundaberg Hospital have been transferred to Brisbane, and the Australian Defence Force and Royal Flying Doctor Service are on standby to help transfer another 130.
Ipswich breaths a sigh of relief
Flooding in Ipswich, in southeast Queensland, has not been as bad as expected, with the Bremer River peaking a metre lower than expected last night.
"Instead of thousands of houses, hundreds of houses have been affected - a lot of people will be able to go back into their homes this morning," Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale told ABC News.
However, power is still out to 165,000 homes and businesses.