FLOOD READY: Firies Dan Bennett, Ian Kelly and Andrew Connellan in town on Wednesday.
FLOOD READY: Firies Dan Bennett, Ian Kelly and Andrew Connellan in town on Wednesday. Tamera Francis

Swift in the water

SWIFTWATER rescue crews were deployed from across the state to ensure the Whitsundays is well looked after, in case of a wet weather emergency as Cyclone Iris teased the coast this past week.

A swiftwater response team was deployed from Mackay on Sunday to Proserpine and will remain in town until there is virtually no threat to the area as a direct impact of Cyclone Iris, station officer Ian Kelly said yesterday.

Airlie Beach also has its own specialist team deployed from across the state, with Brisbane firies flown into Proserpine on Wednesday to lend a hand.

"We're here to provide a 24-hour response team should people find themselves in trouble with swiftwater,” Mr Kelly said.

So far the team has been activated to a patient transfer in Bloomsbury, but the situation was remedied before the crew reached the area.

Team members were familiarising themselves with the hazardous areas and planning how best to deal with an activations that could arise.

"We do encourage that if it's flooded, forget it,” Mr Kelly said.

"You can't underestimate the current.

"We do more rescues in swift water than we do in house fires each year.”

Goorganga Plains and the infamous Hamilton Plains are on the team's radar as the threat of Cyclone Iris tapers off, and Mr Kelly wants locals to remain cautious and flood aware.

Since last Friday Proserpine has received more than 218mm of rain.

Cyclone Iris has officially been downgraded to a category one as it lingers over the Coral Sea.

BoM has reports saying that Iris is moving east south-east and gradually weakening.

Residents can expect to endure damaging winds for the next few days as Iris continues to fizzle out.

BoM reports that heavy rainfall has diminished about the Queensland

east coast for now, but residents should remain alert and prepared.

Emergency services say

if you find yourself stuck

out on the roads contem- plating whether to cross swift water, avoid the risk and don't cross.

Call for a flood fix

AS MORE than 100mm from Tropical Cyclone Iris once again saw both lanes of Shute Harbour Rd at Hamilton Plains underwater, a local MP is saying "enough is enough” and calling for a permanent flood-proofing fix.

The notorious section of road has been a home away from home for Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan, who has been solidly campaigning for a flood fix and demanding to see the "business case” promised by the Labor candidate for Whitsunday Brownyn Taha.

In answer to a question on notice, asked by Mr Costigan of the Minister for Transport and Main Roads tabled by the State Government on February 15, Minister Mark Bailey said a business case "has been developed” and a "preferred project option for an upgrade” for the road had been identified.

"But where is it?” Mr Costigan asked yesterday as cars travelled through the floodwater.

"Quite clearly Hamilton Plains is not a priority for the Palaszczuk Labor Government.”

Mr Bailey said details for the business case had not been released as they were commercial in confidence.

"As I've said, a preferred option has been identified, and that will be considered against competing priorities statewide,” he said.

In the lead-up to the State Government election last year the LNP promised $37million to flood-proof the road.

Whitsunday councillors Jan Clifford, Ron Petterson and deputy mayor John Collins were present for the road-side announcement by then leader of LNP Tim Nicholls and were in support of the multi-million dollar pledge.

Mr Costigan wants to see an end to ongoing disruption for visitors arriving in Airlie Beach from the Whitsunday Coast Airport and school students arriving in Proserpine from Airlie Beach and Cannonvale.

"People don't want to get stuck, tourist operators don't want their guests getting stuck, parents don't want their kids getting stuck, husbands don't want their pregnant wives being stuck,” he said.

An inability of Airlie Beach and Cannonvale residents to access the Proserpine Hospital in case of an emergency was also raised.

But Mr Bailey responded, saying his government had been "investing heavily” in the Mackay-Whitsundays road network.

"The 2017-18 State Budget includes $210million this year and $1.13billion over four years in the Mackay Whitsunday district supporting around 1050 direct jobs,” he said.

The Labor member for Mackay and Assistant Minister for State Development Julieanne Gilbert, who drove through water covering Shute Harbour Rd two weeks ago on the way to an engagement in the Whitsundays, said Mr Costigan's statements were "ridiculous”.

"If we were (neglecting the Whitsundays) you wouldn't see the millions of dollars going into the Whitsunday Coast Airport... as well as all the other projects going on in his electorate,” she said.