Monday 18 February 2019

Crocodiles, snakes spotted in water as Queensland battles worst floods in a century

Damp: Residents evacuate to higher ground in Townsville, Queensland. Photo: Andrew Rankin/AAP
Damp: Residents evacuate to higher ground in Townsville, Queensland. Photo: Andrew Rankin/AAP

Will Ziebell

The heaviest floods in a century in Queensland will worsen this week after weather forecasters warned of more torrential rain even as the south of Australia bakes in sizzling temperatures.

Hundreds of residents have already been evacuated after days of monsoon rains lashed the region around the coastal city of Townsville in north Queensland.

Adam Blazak, a forecaster with the Bureau of Meteorology said some areas had reached "major" flood levels.

"Normally a monsoonal burst might last a few days, but this one's been going on over a week now and is set to continue for a few more days as well," he said.

Between 150mm and 200mm of rain was expected across Townsville at the weekend - equal to about a month's average rainfall. Australia's tropical north expects heavy rains during the monsoon season at this time of the year, but the recent deluge has surged far above normal.

Local authorities are deliberately flooding a number of areas after the record rainfall pushed a dam beyond capacity.

An aerial view shows flood waters in the suburb of Hyde Park, Townsville, North Queensland, Australia, February 4, 2019. AAP Image/Dave Acree/via REUTERS
An aerial view shows flood waters in the suburb of Hyde Park, Townsville, North Queensland, Australia, February 4, 2019. AAP Image/Dave Acree/via REUTERS
An aerial view shows the flood-affected area in Townsville, Queensland, Australia February 3, 2019, in this still image from video obtained from social media. Queensland Government Air/via REUTERS
A man reclines on a unicorn float in floodwater on Bowen Road in Rosslea district, Townsville, Queensland, Australia Feburary 3, 2019 in this still taken from social media video. Nathan Hughes via REUTERS
Floodwater flows over the Aplins Weir Rotary Park footbridge in Mundingburra district, Townsville, Queensland, Australia Feburary 3, 2019 in this still taken from social media video. Nathan Hughes via REUTERS
Ross River Dam releases water in Queensland, Australia, in this still photo from a February 3, 2019 video by Julia Hunt. Julia Hunt/Social Media/via REUTERS
Flooding is seen in Bicentennial Park in Queensland, Australia, in this still photo from a February 3, 2019 drone video footage by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services/Social Media/via REUTERS
Floodwater flows by the Aplins Weir Rotary Park footbridge in Mundingburra district, Townsville, Queensland, Australia Feburary 3, 2019 in this still taken from social media video. Marissa Papageorge via REUTERS
Floodwater flows by the Aplins Weir Rotary Park footbridge in Mundingburra district, Townsville, Queensland, Australia Feburary 3, 2019 in this still taken from social media video. Marissa Papageorge via REUTERS
SES volunteers are seen rescuing residents in Rosslea, Townsville, Queensland, Australia February 2, 2019. Picture taken February 2, 2019. AAP Image/Andrew Rankin/via REUTERS
Amelia Rankin stands in flooded waters in Hermit Park, Townsville, Queensland, Australia February 3, 2019. AAP Image/Andrew Rankin/via REUTERS
Residents evacuating to higher ground in Hermit Park, Townsville, Queensland, Australia February 3, 2019. AAP Image/Andrew Rankin/via REUTERS
Flooding is seen in Rosslea, Townsville, Queensland, Australia February 2, 2019. Picture taken February 2, 2019. AAP Image/Andrew Rankin/via REUTERS
Rocks are seen blocking Muller Street in Wulguru, Townsville, as flooding continues in northern Queensland, Australia February 1, 2019
Local resident Paul Shafer and his daughter Lily stand in floodwaters near star pickets that show where the storm water cover has been removed in Hermit Park, Townsville, northern Queensland, Australia
This handout from the Australia Department of Defence taken on February 2, 2019 and received on February 4, 2019
This handout from the Australia Department of Defence taken on February 2, 2019 and received on February 4, 2019
This handout photo from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) taken on February 3, 2019 and received on February 4, 2019 shows flooding in Townsville
This handout photo from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) taken on February 3, 2019 and received on February 4, 2019 shows flooding in Townsville.
This handout photo from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) taken on February 3, 2019 and received on February 4, 2019 shows flooding in Townsville.Photo by Handout / QUEENSLAND FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES / AFP
A handout picture provided by Queensland Police Service, taken on February 2, 2019 and release on February 3 shows two police officers wading in flood waters in Townsville.Photo by Queensland Police Service
A handout photo taken by Erin Hahn on February 3, 2019 and received on February 4, shows a crocodile during the floods in Townsville.
A handout photo taken and recieved February 4, 2019, from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) shows the flooding in Townsville. Photo by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services
A handout photo taken and recieved February 4, 2019, from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) shows the flooding in Townsville. Photo by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services

Residents in Townsville have been warned there is a "risk to life" amid "unprecedented flooding" that could damage up to 20,000 homes.

Local authorities issued a number of flood warnings and told residents to avoid using roads and consider moving to higher ground if conditions worsen.

Crocodiles and snakes have been spotted int he water as troops and police in boats have been searching for residents in need of help.

"It's basically not just a one in 20-year event, it's a one in 100-year event," said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

North Queensland has significant zinc reserves as well as major deposits of silver, lead, copper and iron ore, with Townsville a major processing centre for the region's base metals.

In stark contrast, wildfires in the southern island state of Tasmania have burnt through close to 190,000 hectares of land.

Chris Arnold, the chief officer of the Tasmania Fire Service, said nearly 600 personnel were working to contain the fires, some of which have been burning for weeks and have destroyed homes.

Mr Arnold said that while the last few days had produced favourable conditions for battling the blazes, communities in part of the state were still under threat as expected hot and dry weather could see bushfires escalate again.

Damp: Residents evacuate to higher ground in Townsville, Queensland. Photo: Andrew Rankin/AAP
Damp: Residents evacuate to higher ground in Townsville, Queensland. Photo: Andrew Rankin/AAP

Australia endured its hottest month on record in January, with sweltering conditions expected to persist through April.

That scorching weather triggered power outages in some areas and sent electricity prices soaring.

Irish Independent

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