Queensland begins clean-up after massive flooding

Above: Residents clearing mud from their house in Townsville. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said officials are working to ensure affected locals would get access to recovery payments and support.
Residents clearing mud from their house in Townsville. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said officials are working to ensure affected locals would get access to recovery payments and support.PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Left: Townsville resident Dave Mitchell helping to clean his brother's motel on Tuesday.
Townsville resident Dave Mitchell helping to clean his brother's motel on Tuesday.PHOTOS: EPA-EFE

Weatherman says worst is probably over; insurance claims for losses hit $44m

TOWNSVILLE (Queensland) • Weary residents in Australia's flood-hit north-east returned home yesterday to begin a massive clean-up after almost two weeks of heavy rain, as the wild weather moved south to inundate more towns.

Communities remain cut off and thousands are still without power in the state of Queensland, but the weather bureau said the downpours that have seen areas doused with more than 300mm of rain daily were easing.

"It looks like the worst is probably over," Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Vinord Anand told Agence France-Presse. "We are still seeing rainfall rates that are meeting our severe weather warning criteria, but rainfall totals are not as high as they have been in the last five to 10 days."

The daily rainfall totals were falling below 250mm and would "ease slightly" today and tomorrow as the monsoonal trough slowly moves offshore, he added.

Australia's tropical north typically experiences heavy rains during the monsoon season, but the recent downpours have seen some areas get a year's worth of rainfall in just a week.

The rains turned roads into rivers and were so incessant that the authorities were forced to open floodgates of a major dam on Sunday.

With floodwaters receding in some areas of the hard-hit city of Townsville, residents headed home to help one another clean up their mud-caked properties.

"Just coming up the driveway, looking at all the mud, that's when it hit home," resident Clayton Linning told national broadcaster ABC yesterday.

COMMUNITY SPIRIT

Just coming up the driveway, looking at all the mud, that's when it hit home. There are a lot of neighbours we've never met before and now we have, which is really nice. It's an unfortunate way to have to build community but it does.

MR CLAYTON LINNING, a Townsville resident, on how the community rallied.

"There are a lot of neighbours we've never met before and now we have, which is really nice. It's an unfortunate way to have to build community but it does."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said yesterday that officials were working to ensure affected locals would get access to recovery payments and support.

 
 
 

The Insurance Council of Australia added that claims were "rising by the hour", with losses of A$45 million (S$43.5 million) from 3,500 applications so far.

More than 100 extra police have been deployed to help with the disaster, while the army, which has a major base in Townsville, has also been active.

Meanwhile, police said they have launched an investigation into the deaths of two men aged 21 and 23 after their bodies were found in floodwaters, amid local reports that officers had been chasing them after an alleged liquor store break-in.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 07, 2019, with the headline 'Queensland begins clean-up after massive flooding'. Print Edition | Subscribe