Sunday, February 5, 2012

One dead in Qld floods, St George cut off

The inland Queensland town of St George is now on its own after floodwaters submerged the only road out of town late on Sunday night but not before a mass evacuation of its population.

The residents fled ahead of Tuesday's expected 15-metre flood peak - 1.5 metres higher than previous records.
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A mandatory evacuation order was declared after Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and Mayor Donna Stewart met with local disaster management groups on Sunday.
The order has since been made public via email, media outlets, online and through social media.
Police and SES crews doorknocked every home in St George to let people know the situation.
Under state legislation, police and other emergency workers are given extra powers in a disaster, including the use of reasonable force to make people leave.
Ms Stewart said she would stay in the town along with emergency workers and police who will be guarding property.
"The people have taken very good advice and evacuated the town and I am mightily relieved that we don't have the responsibility of those people," Ms Stewart told AAP.
"This is a very serious situation and the river is still rising very quickly."
She said those residents still left are in the elevated northern part of St George.
St George resident Angela Doran described the sense of panic in the town once police started doorknocking and telling people to leave before the Moonie Highway - the only road out of town - was cut.
"Some people are in disbelief," Ms Doran said.
A RAAF Hercules aircraft arrived on Sunday to fly hospital patients to Brisbane and the Gold Coast and air evacuations will continue once roads are cut.
Further north in Roma, the body of local woman Jane Sheahan was found near a bridge on Sunday afternoon.
She was swept away on Friday while trying to cross a flooded road with her seven-year-old son, who was rescued.
Roma mayor Mark O'Brien told ABC Radio the incident was a "real low point" for the town.
"It's obviously a really sad note, because in all the years of flooding, we haven't lost anyone yet in these events," he said.
Charleville, northwest of St George, is also in the wall of water's firing line, but a levee built to protect the town is now expected to hold after fears on Saturday it might fail.
Meanwhile, the clean-up has started in Roma and Mitchell, which copped the brunt of the flooding on Friday and Saturday.
Maranoa mayor Robert Loughnan, who presides over both towns, said residents are starting to return to their homes and start the arduous task of cleaning up before the mud starts to try.
"Water levels in Roma receded further throughout the night and residents today begin the task of checking the damage to their property and cleaning out their homes," Mr Loughnan said on Sunday.
"We have a huge job ahead of us, but have received overwhelming support from the community this morning to kick-start the initial clean up efforts in Roma."
The Queensland government on Sunday announced it will provide disaster recovery grants of $1765 for individuals and $5300 for families in Mitchell, with more affected towns likely to be added to the list.

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