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Father and daughter rescued after two days clinging to tree in floodwaters, major flooding continues in Maryborough

Monday January 10, 2022 - 05:16 AEDT
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Both father and daughter were airlifted to Kingaroy hospital and have since been discharged.  - ABC

A father and daughter have been airlifted to safety after spending two nights clinging to a tree surrounded by floodwaters in Queensland's Gympie region. 


The man, in his 40s and his primary-school-aged daughter managed to grab on to the tree after their car was washed into floodwaters while they were driving on Friday night. 


The father told rescue crews that on the first night he managed to swim to their submerged car and get a rope, then used it to tie himself and his daughter to the tree to stop them getting washed away. 


The waters subsided on Sunday morning, and the two were able to climb down more than 10 metres and get help. 


Both the father and daughter suffered exposure, dehydration and insect bites. They were airlifted to Kingaroy Hospital for medical treatment before being discharged. 


Coastal areas of Queensland are currently bracing for additional rainfall and flooding. There were 75 calls for help across the state on Sunday night. 


A peak at Maryborough of just under 10 metres was recorded on Sunday night.


Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said late this morning the Mary River flood level at Maryborough was about 9 metres and falling.


"And is expected to go below the high major flood level of 9 metres this afternoon," he said.


"That will allow us to increase our assessments of the area but because of the lower peak we were seeing less people impacted less businesses around 30 structures that were impacted in the CBD."


Moderate to major flooding is continuing across the Mary River catchment from Gympie downstream, but river levels are now generally easing.


Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour said authorities had managed to mitigate the situation in Maryborough after working through the night.


More than 70 rescues performed by emergency services


Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Assistant Commissioner Gary McCormack said more than 70 rescues have been performed so far.


"We've had also over 200 SES taking jobs which have included around 10 flood boat jobs as well [since Friday]."


Assistant Commissioner McCormack said access has been a major issue for rescue crews due to the copious amounts of water.


"The water that came down the other evening, in some areas 650 [millimetres], that's an annual rainfall in a one-day period, that's just an incredible amount of water," he said.


He said many properties have been affected by the floods and work is underway to assist those in need and at risk.


"Obviously the low-lying areas will have a greater inundation of water, it's just a matter of how much water has got into the actual buildings on those properties."


Grave concerns for 14yo girl


Police divers, State Emergency Service crews, water police and volunteers are continuing the search for a 14-year-old girl missing in floodwaters in Maryborough.


The girl's 53-year-old father was rescued by emergency services just after midday on Saturday after being located clinging to a tree. 


District Superintendent Michael Sawrey said the search effort has been challenging and there are grave concerns for the girl's wellbeing.


"It is an extremely difficult area surrounded by water which has created hindrances to our search effort, aerial support has been provided but at this stage it has been unsuccessful," Superintendent Sawrey said.


He warned people to stay away from floodwaters.


"This isn't a time to go out looking around on the water it's still a flood, the water is rushing more than it normally does."


QFES Assistant Commissioner Stephen Smith said work was underway in Maryborough to limit the impact of significant flooding overnight.


He said the flood was caused by "a valve in the stormwater system [which] allowed water to come through", but reassured residents work was being done to ensure the town "bounces back stronger" for the next weather event.


"Maryborough is a town that is used to flooding and they have a very well-practised and well-planned response and that will be activated over the next few days."


Business owners at a loss 





Maryborough business owner Ken Proudlock said a "fair bit of water" entered through the back of his business and into his basement.


"We had a foot of water [in the basement] which is still full and about six inches of water through the shops," he said.


"It will probably be another week or so until all the water goes down. It could be another couple of weeks until we're back up and running."


Debbi Cavanagh, whose new store had been due to open next month, said damage caused by the floodwaters had proved "absolutely devastating".


She no longer knows what the future holds for her business.


"We were working against the clock. It's unfortunate those flood gates failed," she said.


"The basement is completely flooded, and we have to wait for that water to recede to clean up."


Disaster management group to meet today


State Member for Gympie Tony Perrett said his property had received 946 millimetres of rain during last week's deluge.


Mr Perrett became stuck in Hervey Bay after visiting there for a holiday last week.


"We've been here since Wednesday last week, we were stuck here with the roads cut, and are heading home today," he said.


But he did not think his property had sustained any damage during the flood.


"We had almost a metre of rain, but we were lucky," he said.


"Our property is right at the head of Boonara Creek near the Burnett River that was the worst hit waterway."


Mr Perrett said the Local Disaster Management Group would meet in Gympie this morning to debrief about the flood and recovery efforts.







- ABC

© ABC 2022

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