Queensland towns pummelled again

At least four dead and a massive damage bill on the horizon as state in the grip of widespread flooding.

A boat at the mouth of the Boyne River near Gladstone. Photo / Supplied
A boat at the mouth of the Boyne River near Gladstone. Photo / Supplied

At least four people are feared dead in Queensland's unfolding flood crisis, which will leave the state with another massive damage bill.

Two years ago, floods swept across the state, killing at least 35 people and leaving a A$6 billion reconstruction task. Authorities now face the prospect of facing it all over again.

Many of the communities that were hit so hard in the 2010/11 floods, have been inundated again and pummelled by tornadoes and cyclone-strength winds from ex-tropical cyclone Oswald.

The central Queensland cities of Gladstone and Bundaberg are in the grip of widespread flooding. The southern community of Gympie will flood for the third time in three years. And Maryborough is also expected to go under. Hundreds of homes and businesses across those communities have flooded or are expected to flood.

In Bundaberg alone, 400 properties are expected to go under, many of them the same ones that faced a heartbreaking clean-up just two years ago. Entire suburbs have been evacuated as flood waters continue to rise.

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart yesterday confirmed the state's first flood death - an elderly man pulled from the water at tornado hit Burnett Heads, near Bundaberg.

There are grave fears for three others: A young woman last seen driving into floodwaters at Pacific Haven near Maryborough yesterday; a man swept away when he and two companions drove into flood waters at Widgee Creek near Gympie yesterday; and a fisherman missing off Port Alma since Thursday night.

Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan promised Queensland would have the full resources of the defence force at its disposal, and two defence choppers have already been sent to Bundaberg. He said defence assets were also being used to rescue people stranded by floodwaters at Baffle Creek, north of Bundaberg.

Rescuers last night were still trying to reach three families, stuck on the roofs of their homes near Gympie for several hours. There have been dozens of other rescues, including a woman in the Wide Bay area who was found clinging to a log in flood waters. She had been in a boat with her husband when it overturned. He managed to make it to safety.

The low pressure system has already swept over the Sunshine Coast. Last night it was moving towards Brisbane before hitting the Gold Coast.

Devastation in Oswald's tail

Bundaberg
*North Bundaberg evacuated after Burnett River broke its banks
*Up to 100 homes and businesses already flooded
*Fears up to 200 other properties could go under
*Disaster declaration now covers most low-lying suburbs of the city
*Burnett River peaking at 9m - the peak in 2010/11 floods was 7.5m
*Evacuation centres are taking in those forced to leave their homes
*Bundaberg region hit by six tornadoes during weekend
*Tornado damage to homes and businesses in Burnett Heads, Bargara, Coonarr, Burrum Heads

Gympie
*Rooftop rescues carried out in towns of Widgee and Sexton, west of Gympie, says mayor
*Man missing in floodwaters after trying to cross Widgee Creek, near Gympie; two others rescued
*Widespread flooding in Gympie and South Burnett regions
*Mary River peaking at 17m, just shy of levels in 2011 floods
*River expected to cut city in two
*Parts of Gympie CBD expected to flood
*Many major arterial roads cut, including the Bruce Highway

Gladstone
*Boyne Island and Tannum Sands, south of Gladstone, experiencing unprecedented *flooding
*900 homes evacuated
*Some homes flooded to their ceilings at Baffle Creek, between Gladstone and Bundaberg
Water levels appear to be dropping, mayor says

Moreton Bay Council region
*Concerns for 4000 low-lying properties, north of Brisbane
*Evacuation centres opened at Bribie Is, Caboolture and Dakabin
*Huge swells eroding beach

Brisbane
*Six hours of 125km/h winds and torrential rain Saturday night
*Forecasters say the city will get 200mm to 300mm of rain today; some areas could get 400mm

Sunshine Coast
*Mayor urged residents worried about flooding to evacuate
*Worst of the weather yet to hit Storm surges, 125km/h winds and torrential rain expected
*Evacuation centres set up at Nambour, Noosa and Caloundra

-AAP

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