Families flee ahead of flooding

Resident Phil Taylor stands in his back yard in Murwillumbah, north-eastern New South Wales, surveying severe flood damage. PICTURE: Getty Images

Families are moving out of low-lying parts of Rockhampton, and extra emergency crews have moved into the central Queensland city as it braces for the worst flooding in more than 60 years.
The Fitzroy River is rising and are expected to peak of 9.4m on Wednesday or Thursday.
At that level flooding will be worse than what was seen in 2011 and 1954, when the city suffered immense damage.
Authorities have warned 5400 properties are under threat, including 3000 homes, with some residents in low-lying Depot Hill and other locations moving out of their homes, knowing from past experience that their homes will go under.
An emergency alert is current for the Fitzroy River, with crews door-knocking at-risk properties and urging people to get out now.
“Although this is a slow-moving lead-up to the floods, the reality is we need people to be moving and taking action right now,” Queensland Fire and Emergency Services deputy commissioner Mark Roche warned today.
Extra SES crews have been sent to Rockhampton to help residents prepare, deal with swift-water rescues, and then rapid damage assessments after the flood has hit.
“I believe we will have something like an additional 13 flood boats in the area. We have people who are currently door-knocking and will be providing support to the community, whether that will be through provision of sandbags or public information,” Roche said.
Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow says the city is prepared, but the impact on Rockhampton, including to its economy, would be vast.
She expects about 400 homes to have water over the floorboards, but says many many more will have water under properties, and there are are concerns for critical infrastructure including roads.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says everything possible is being done to prepare Rockhampton for what’s to come, and she said help would be there when the waters recede.
“This one is going to be a big one,” she warned yesterday.
One of Rockhampton’s biggest employers, Teys Australia, which operates the city’s meatworks, has closed its plant ahead of the flood.
Teys hopes to resume processing at the plant on Friday, but warned the closure may go beyond then, depending on water levels.
“While cattle have been purchased to supply the plant for the week, the safety and wellbeing of staff is our priority. On that note we urge employees to follow the instructions of local authorities and do what is necessary to stay out of danger,” the company said in a statement today. AAP