Townsville flood clean-up to begin in earnest as severe weather eases



February 07, 2019 07:49:34

The true scale of the clean-up across north Queensland is becoming apparent as severe weather conditions ease in flood-ravaged Townsville.

For the first time in more than a week there is not a Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) severe weather warning in place.

“[There’s] still a chance of some heavy falls, particularly thunderstorms, but even that threat is going to go away in the next 24 to 36 hours,” BOM forecaster Michael Knepp said.

“We are starting to see this event wind down, and by the weekend it looks like this tropical low that’s been sitting in the north west will move out into the coral sea.”

He said the there were still major flood warnings for western Queensland.

“Probably what’s been forgotten here is these inland areas on the Flinders Highway – Richmond, Hughenden, Julia Creek, south towards Winton too – they’ve had phenomenal rainfall there too, record-breaking rainfall, and significant flooding in that area,” he said.

Another emergency alert is current for Hughenden, west of Townsville, warning the Ernest Henry Bridge has been closed as it is expected to be flooded.

Assessing the damage

Yesterday clean-up efforts in some of the worst-affected suburbs were hampered when heavy rain prompted warnings of more flash flooding.

With the flood clean-up in Townsville only just starting, authorities are warning the flood emergency is far from over.

Graham Hall from the Queensland Reconstruction Authority said late yesterday they had assessed 935 homes in Townsville.

“Of those, about 350 have minor damage where they’ve just got a small amount of water through their living areas,” he said.

“But there’s about 172 that have had [about] half a metre of water to a metre of water through them.

“There’s about 18 homes at the moment that are severely damaged, there’s very high levels of water through those homes.

“This assessment will go on through to the weekend … we’re also going to move out into some of the outer-lying suburbs and rural areas around Townsville.”

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said it could be six weeks before repairs to essential infrastructure were completed.

The repair bill for that damaged infrastructure is currently estimated to be about $80 million but that figure is expected to rise.

Cr Hill said it was essential people contacted their insurance companies before beginning the bulk of the clean-up.

“The one thing I don’t want is people cleaning up and insurance companies not supporting what they’ve done,” she said.

Townsville Chamber of Commerce’s Marie Claude Brown said long-term planning was already underway to deal with the economic impact from the floods.

“There’s not going to be a more important time right now to be spending your money locally,” she said.

“So we know insurance companies try to hire locally as much as possibly but if you’re going to use tradies to do your work even through your insurance, make sure those tradies have some roots in Townsville.

“I know the State and council are already in discussion about economic recovery plans.”

Giru open again

North of Townsville, about 100 trucks remain stranded in Cardwell.

The Bruce Highway was closed between Ingham and Cardwell due to water over the road, but conditions will be reassessed this morning.

South of Townsville, the town of Giru — which is particularly prone to flooding — has endured its worst flood crisis in years.

The cane-farming township was cut off for about a week but is finally accessible by road again, although fluctuating water levels still periodically spill over some local roads.

Medicine and groceries were flown in multiple times as supplies dwindled and some low-lying homes and shops are now muddy and mouldy.

Giru residents have been getting around in boats.

But Allan Carrigan said he had to make the painful decision to have his four cattle shot after they struggled in floodwaters.

“They were out on a mountain and couldn’t get to food,” he said.

At least one calf drowned and others are missing.












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