Weather News

Maryborough CBD evacuated as 'catastrophic failure' of gates under levee threatens major flooding

Sunday January 9, 2022 - 13:06 AEDT
ABC image
Floodwater covers roads in Maryborough after heavy rain hit south-east Queensland.  - ABC

Maryborough's central business district was evacuated on Sunday as water flowed through damaged gates under the town's levee, threatening to flood as many as 100 businesses.


Police  established an exclusion zone in the city and went door to door, advising people to evacuate to higher ground as the waters rose after recent heavy rain swelled the Mary River. 


Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour said water was rushing into the CBD through damaged underground gates, which allowed the flood to bypass the levee built to protect local businesses.


"There has been a catastrophic failure in that the gates that are meant to hold the stormwater back under underground have failed," Mr Seymour said.


Instead of 12 businesses being flooded, around 100 were now expected to suffer water damage, he said, as owners raced to clear stock and add extra sandbags.


Police warned in a Facebook post that the CBD "will now bear the full impact of the flood", and officers cordoned off parts of Adelaide Street, Kent Street, Lennox Street, Alice Street and Richmond Street.


A message posted on the Fraser Regional Council's Facebook site urged people to avoid the area. 


The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has warned of widespread moderate to major flooding a cross the Mary River catchment.


The river was expected to peak at 10.3 metres on Sunday, below the 2013 peak of 10.7 metres.


On Sunday morning, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said that the rainfall in the region had been  "unexpected" and "absolutely unprecedented".


"At this stage we are expecting about 80 homes to be impacted," she said.


Search for missing girl 


Further south, police said they held "very grave fears" for a 14-year-old girl swept away by floodwater near Gympie.


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


Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said police teams were scanning the area but difficult conditions had hampered the search.


"We have deployed PolAir and we have specialists water police and dog squad members on the ground, as well as SES and other emergency services," Mr Gollschewski said on Sunday.


"This is a very, very difficult environment. We are unable to get in there and conduct that search appropriately at the moment."


Cyclone Tiffany forms off coast  


Meanwhile, a tropical low sitting in the Coral Sea has developed into Cyclone Tiffany, a category one storm moving at 11 kilometres per hour towards the Far North Queensland coast.


Around 4pm on Sunday AEST, Tiffany was around 235 kilometres north-west of Cooktown and was expected to intensify before making landfall between Cooktown and Lockhart River.


The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said the timing of Tiffany's landfall would depend on whether the cyclone moved south or north of Cape Melville. 


Destructive wind gusts of up to 130kph are possible on Monday as Tiffany approaches the coast.


Heavy rain and larges waves are also expected to hit the region as the system moves across Cape York Peninsula.


People between Cape Tribulation and Cooktown are advised to secure boats and other property.  


Rain easing


While that tropical low intensified, the BOM cancelled its severe thunderstorms warning for people further south in the Capricornia, Wide Bay and Burnett districts.


Thunderstorms and showers continued overnight in flood-affected regions, but were isolated.


Mr Claassen said the highest total recorded in the past 24 hours was near Bundaberg, at 169 millimetres, whereas on Saturday morning some areas recorded upwards of 600 millimetres.


"For Maryborough, [we're] just expecting very isolated potential showers or thunderstorms, but nothing severe," he said.


"About ? 10 millimetres through there today ? so that shouldn't, thankfully, add to any of the flooding concerns ? but, obviously, we will be watching any [rain] that does fall in the area very closely today."


He said the same applied for the flood-affected towns of Tiaro, Miva and the Gympie region in general.


"We are still seeing the major flooding currently [at] Tiaro and Miva ? with [river levels] around over 20 metres at Tiaro and at Miva, approaching 20m as well, but they will gradually ease back," he said.


"Thankfully, those locations [are] not expected to see any significant rainfall today."


Mr Claassen said no "major flooding" was expected at Gympie on Sunday.







- ABC

© ABC 2022

Site search


Enter a postcode or town name for local weather, or text to search the site. » advanced search

Help with Farmonline Weather