Rescues begin as record deluge threatens chaos in state’s north

A man has been rescued from floodwaters and emergency services have had almost 40 calls for help as unseasonally heavy rain hits northern Queensland.

May 10, 2022, updated May 10, 2022
The Bureau of Meteorology is warning May rainfall records could be smashed. (Dan Peled/AAP PHOTOS)

The Bureau of Meteorology is warning May rainfall records could be smashed. (Dan Peled/AAP PHOTOS)

A Queensland Fire and Emergency Services swiftwater rescue team helped the man in his 20s to safety after he got trapped in floodwaters in Soldiers Hill, a suburb of Mount Isa, about 11pm on Monday.

A severe weather warning has been issued from Townsville west to Cloncurry, and from Croydon in the north and south to Blackall.

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The Bureau of Meteorology has warned “dangerous and life-threatening” flash-flooding is likely with six-hour rainfall totals of 60-100mm forecast from Wednesday. Areas as far south as the Sunshine Coast may be hit with rainfall that will break May records.

A severe weather warning has been issued from Townsville west to Cloncurry, and from Croydon in the north and south to Blackall.

The highest rainfalls overnight were recorded in Kirby, near Winton, with 97 mm till 6am on Tuesday.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the SES received 39 calls for assistance overnight with more significant rain expected throughout week.

“The bureau has advised some locations may receive their highest may rainfall on record this week,” she told parliament.

Heavy rain is unusual outside the wet season, and some areas are set to be hit with 10 times the monthly average for May in just 24 to 48 hours.

The bureau said six-hour falls of up to 150mm were also possible in the Central West and North West districts.

“Locally intense rainfall with embedded thunderstorms which may lead to dangerous and life-threatening flash flooding is also possible for the Central West and parts of the North West districts,” the forecaster said in an alert.

It particularly warned of short, heavy bursts of rainfall that would increase the risk of landslips in already saturated catchments.

Flood watches are in place for northern, central, western, and southeastern Queensland, with the remaining central Queensalnd catchments to be assessed on Tuesday.

A major flood warning is in place for Cooper Creek, a moderate warning for Ayr Creek and minor warnings for Thompson, Barcoo and Georgina Rivers and the Diamantina river.

Police warn the community to remain vigilant and patient with road closures expected.

“Members of the public are urged to avoid roads, creeks and bridges likely to be impacted by rapidly rising water, storm debris and flood damage,” the police service said.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services expects more calls for assistance when the most intense downpours arrive.

“We think that that’s going to go up over the coming … two to three days, we know that, in fact,” Assistant Commissioner Andrew Short told ABC radio on Tuesday.

“And we had a single rescue out at Mount Isa, where a person found their way into floodwaters.

“So that’s where we are right now. But we believe that because of the what’s playing out in front of us then we’re going to see those numbers go up.”

He said QFES crews had been pre-deploying and towns had been getting ready ahead of the rain, but hopefully it would last only three days.

Short said people could still get themselves into trouble and urged people not to drive into floodwaters.

“Think about your family, think about those around you, think about the rescuers who actually are going to have to come and help you in that event,” he said.

“So we’re looking for people to be a bit considerate of others (before) getting involved in these situations.”



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