Jessica Mackail checks out the Ross River powering over Aplins Weir. Picture: Michael Chambers
Jessica Mackail checks out the Ross River powering over Aplins Weir. Picture: Michael Chambers

Man missing as city declared disaster zone

AN emergency alert has been issued for areas near Townsville with residents told they may need to evacuate with intense rain continuing and flash flooding expected.

The State Government has issued an emergency alert for residents in Black River, Blue Water, Beach Holm, Yabulu and Toolakea.

The areas are expected to experience intense rain, which could lead to flash flooding.

Residents in low-lying areas have been told to secure belongings and prepare to self-evacuate if they are concerned.

Blue Water resident Roger Goodwin said the rain had been "horrendous" since about 2am, and a wall of water hithis property two hours later.

"We had a meter-and-a-half of water come through the house again - or under my house," he told ABC television.

He thinks he saw a dead cow float by at one stage, and says Bluewater has had about 900mm of rain in the past three days.

"The noise of the flood that goes under the house, it is unbelievable." Mr Goodwin's neighbours are staying with him as theirhouse had been swamped. He expects dozens of homes will emerge with flood damage.

At the moment he's staying put, but only because his house is three metres off the ground.

Meanwhile, a man thought missing in floodwaters at Giru has been found safe and well.

Thought to have entered water in an attempt to get home, the man instead stayed with a friend for the night.

A search for the man kicked off last night and continued today despite bad weather in the area.

Residents in low-lying areas have been told to secure belongings and prepare to self-evacuate if they are concerned.

Meanwhile, emergency services are searching for a man who went missing at Giru, near Townsville.

Police are investigating whether the 32-year-old man entered floodwaters in an attempt to make it to his home about 5pm yesterday.

The Bureau of Meteorology says heavy rain has ramped up again in Townsville this morning, with 52mm recorded at the airport in an hour.

Jessica Mackail checks out the Ross River powering over Aplins Weir. Picture: Michael Chambers
Jessica Mackail checks out the Ross River powering over Aplins Weir. Picture: Michael Chambers

The area around the airport has now copped 180mm since 9am yesterday and the Bureau warns flash flooding is likely.

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Major flood warnings are in place for the Flinders, Haughton, Herbert, Murray, Ross and Bogle rivers and moderate flood warnings for the Tully River and Burdekin River.

There are expectations of 200mm of rain every day for the next three days.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said police would be given wider evacuation powers across 100km of the disaster zone, under the one-in-100-year extreme flooding event in North Queensland.

The Premier said the decision to close about 58 schools and childcare centres - affecting thousands of families - was to ensure public safety.

"It is safer if families are not trying to get to and from school,'' she said.

"The bureau's advice is, if this monsoonal weather continues, the next few days could see more heavy rainfall."

Queensland's Disaster Management Committee will meet today as flash flooding swamped up to 30 homes in Bluewater, and an inner-city unit complex and nearby homes were evacuated after a rock wall collapsed.

The Bruce Highway south of Townsville was still cut, railway lines underwater, and many suburban roads awash, in the downpour, with up to 135mm of rain in three hours recorded in parts of the region.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill has urged residents in Alligator Creek, Julago and Nome to move to higher ground because of the risk of flash flooding.

"This weather looks like it will set in for the next three or four days,'' Cr Hill said. "It can be quite unpredictable. Stay alert."

She hailed the undaunted spirit and generosity of North Queenslander residents as "neighbours help neighbours".

Moesha Graham and Azariah Spencer, both of Heatley, get ready for the start of the Barra season by fishing the swollen Ross River in Aitkenvale. Picture: Michael Chambers
Moesha Graham and Azariah Spencer, both of Heatley, get ready for the start of the Barra season by fishing the swollen Ross River in Aitkenvale. Picture: Michael Chambers

 

"That's the sort of resilience you've gotta love in North Queensland.''

Police Acting Chief Superintendent Steve Munro said the weather was "unprecedented" and had caught many short.

"We are doing our utmost, but Mother Nature surprises us from time to time,'' he said.

In 1998, Townsville was engulfed by an similar extreme wet weather event dubbed by locals the "Night of Noah". In hard-hit northern suburb of Bluewater, resident Ralph Murphy, 68, told of the heartache of his devastating loss after a raging torrent of flash-flooding destroyed his home, possessions and four-wheel-drive.

The streets of Giru have been inundated as the Haughton River continues to rise. Picture: Giru Community Facebook
The streets of Giru have been inundated as the Haughton River continues to rise. Picture: Giru Community Facebook

His backyard, which fronts on to flooded Bluewater Creek, is strewn with a wrecked caravan, shipping containers, pieces of tin, and a chook pen. Inside his home, waist-high flood water toppled his fridge, ruined his model car collection, and left the building unliveable.

"I'm now homeless," he said. "It's an overwhelming job to clean up. Everything is covered in mud. I've never seen anything like this.''