Emerald evacuees fear robbery
SOME Emerald residents are refusing to leave their homes in fear of being robbed.
In the 2008 floods, Emerald residents received a double blow as they evacuated their flood-ravaged homes only to return to find them ransacked, and their possessions missing.
And those that have been though the devastation before do not want to be twice bitten.
State Emergency Service crews are frustrated as they cannot force people to leave, despite the danger of floodwaters.
Emerald resident Jodie Harrold yesterday said people feared for their homes.
“The poor SES is doing their job but they can’t get people to move, they don’t have the power to say, ‘you have to get in this boat’,” she said.
“They are boating around trying to help people but they won’t leave their homes.”
A Central Highlands Regional Council spokeswoman confirmed the fear, saying there were some people who have said they didn’t want to leave their homes.
“All we can do is give the best advice we can,” she said.
“Some people are concerned but we are trying to get the message out that looting is a high priority for police.”
Stringent police patrols are being conducted in the inundated streets to prevent looting.
The Central Highlands Local Disaster Management Group yesterday said in a statement that 24-hour police patrols were operating, with more police officers flown into town yesterday.
Police have also advised they would be taking a zero tolerance stance to people driving around traffic controls or speeding through floodwaters.
They said it was important that people do not drive though the town for the next few days unless absolutely necessary, to reduce the likelihood of water entering houses.
The Nogoa River peaked at the bridge in Emerald at 16 metres at 11.30pm on Thursday, and peaked at the north side of town yesterday.
“It is expected that the peak will hold for the next 12 hours at least before falling very slowly Saturday,” a Local Disaster Management Group statement said.
Rises of up to 200mm were expected downstream from the Vince Lester Bridge, in the far northern section of town yesterday.
The disaster management group said the rail bridge should be accessible for inspection tomorrow.