Hawke's Bay family flees flooding in Queensland

By HANNA BUTLER

A former Hawke's Bay woman and her family have fled flood-ravaged Queensland for her home town of Takapau with just the clothes on their backs.
Kristy Portas farms with her Australian fiance and two young sons, on a remote cattle station 200km south east of Emerald - among the worst flood-hit areas in northern Queensland.
Ms Portas was in the shower when she was told to evacuate immediately on December 23.
"We were in the car within half an hour," she said. "I literally just had what I was wearing and stuff for the kids."
The usual four-hour drive out to family in Biloela took 14 hours.
Christmas was spent safely indoors in Biloela but heavy rains brought a further 35cm of water overnight. On December 27 she was told all roads to her home had been destroyed and it was unknown when a return was possible
Deciding to come to New Zealand, Ms Portas said the next problem was booking flights.
Roads to the airport in Gladstone were flooded, but the family finally got out on New Year's Eve. "I couldn't wait to get on the plane. I couldn't breathe, there was so much rain."
A helicopter was sent to her home to pick up her pets, and to raid her food for the neighbours, who were not evacuated in time and trapped by the flooding.
"They have enough food since the chopper dropped it off. But with all the extra dogs they have run out of dog food and are having to shoot kangaroos to feed them."
Living in a rural location prone to heavy rains, Ms Portas said they had to be prepared. "We can never risk to run out of anything and have a plan every time there is a bit of rain.

We are 200km from mobile coverage."
But nothing could have prepared her for these rains. "It was like the heavens opened and they haven't closed."
Meanwhile, at least 100,000 homes and businesses could be without power from this morning and thousands of people face evacuation as floods hit Brisbane, Australia's third largest city with 2 million residents, and Ipswich.
Eleven people are dead and 78 others are missing, with fears the death toll could rise dramatically in coming days, after torrents of water, described as an "inland tsunami" swept through communities west of Brisbane.
The Brisbane and Bremer rivers will rise to levels exceeding the devastating floods of January 1974.
Police have asked residents to avoid travelling to the Brisbane CBD, with many businesses expected to be shut.
The ultimate cost of the weeks-long flooding could be as high as $5 billion.
Additional reporting, AAP

- Hawkes Bay Today

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