Australia floods: 'I don't know what I am going to do'

Kaycee Bentley reacts to the discovery of her flooded home in North MacLean, Brisbane on April 1, 2017, which was submerged under floodwaters caused by Cyclone Debbie.
Kaycee Bentley reacts to the discovery of her flooded home in North MacLean, Brisbane on April 1, 2017, which was submerged under floodwaters caused by Cyclone Debbie. PHOTO: AFP

LOGAN CITY, AUSTRALIA (AFP) - People in North Maclean are used to floods. But few in the small farming community in eastern Australia can remember a deluge as bad as this one.

Torrential rains in the wake of a powerful tropical cyclone that slammed into the country's northeast coast on Tuesday have inundated large areas of two states and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

Kaycee Bentley woke Friday to find water inside her house. The nearby Logan River was rising faster than expected and it was not long before the water was lapping above the windows of her newly renovated home.

As neighbours rushed to help her escape, Bentley had barely enough time to save her most prized possessions: several horses and a dog.

"Most of my stuff was still left there, but it will all be gone now," the 47-year-old mechanic told AFP as she looked across the expanse of muddy water to her almost submerged house.

"I don't know what I am going to do, where I am going to go or where I am going to put the horses," she added, visibly upset.

As category four Cyclone Debbie was reduced to a tropical low, it dumped huge amounts of rain down the east coast to Sydney and beyond, causing widespread damage that is still being assessed.

'Major risk' 

Even as skies clear start to clear, rivers in Queensland and New South Wales keep rising - in some areas reaching levels not seen in decades, if ever - and police are urging people to move away and avoid crossing flooded roads.

 

With at least two people dead and several missing, Queensland police chief Ian Stewart has warned there is "still a major risk to the community around Logan and further south caused by that flooding situation".

The residents of North Maclean, south of Brisbane, are no strangers to flooding - the area has been hit by six major deluges in the past, according to a memorial in a local park.

Wooden poles standing side by side are grim reminders of the peaks of previous inundations, the highest of which is 10 metres (33 feet) above the current floodwaters.

But locals say the extent of the damage caused by the flooding that followed Debbie is the worst they have ever seen.

Eleven-year-old Blaze Archibald, who despite his young age, says he can still remember the last big drenching in 2013.

"It used to be behind the stables," he said of the floodwaters then.

"This time, it is all the way up to the stables." While Bentley was able to save her beloved pets, not all animals in North Maclean were so lucky.

As the rapidly rising water swallowed up fields, sending frightened cattle fleeing to higher ground, a calf was left behind and washed into the branches of a tree.

By the time a kayaker and two jet skiers reached the animal, it was dead. They dragged the carcass 100 metres to dry ground where exhausted residents consoled one another, some crying over the loss.

"The Logan community is really strong, we always get together and help people," said Linus Power, the local member of state parliament, during a tour of North Maclean to survey the damage.

"A lot of people have lost houses in this part of the Logan River.

"There are people that are yet to discover that they have lost their houses, because they went and stayed with family and friends and they will come back today and find their houses under water."