Flood could be as bad as 1991
EXPERTS admit they are unsure how bad the flooding is going to get in Rockhampton over the course of the next week.
But there’s a possibility it could be as serious as the last major flood in 1991, which left the city isolated by road and made significant parts of the city accessible only by boat.
If that happens, at least 400 houses could be inundated.
Some people were taking no chances yesterday, stripping supermarket shelves of essentials such as bread and milk.
Supermarkets reported a frenzy with some stores so busy they ran out of trolleys.
The Local Disaster Management Group, which includes representatives from all the emergency services, will now meet every day during the crisis and it will decide if and when it is necessary to enforce evacuations.
It said yesterday that the Fitzroy River was expected to reach more than eight metres by the weekend, with the possibility of 8.5 metres early next week depending on the amount of additional rain.
But with western areas which drain into the Fitzroy reporting record flooding levels, there is speculation the river could hit the 1991 peak of 9.2 metres.
At least 400 houses would then be at risk of significant flooding in the city and it would not be possible for traffic to enter or leave Rockhampton on any of the major road routes.
Some communities are already isolated, including Alton Downs, Stanage Bay, Water Park Creek and Gogango.
It is also impossible to reach Emerald from Rockhampton and the Capricorn Highway is a disaster zone, cut at Duaringa, between Alpha and Barcaldine and between Emerald and Dingo.
The Gregory Highway is cut north of Emerald at Theresa Creek.
Roads west of Emerald are also closed at various places and the routes between Middlemount and Dingo and Middlemount and Dysart are shut.
Mayor Brad Carter, who chairs the disaster management group, said he was confident the airport could remain operational even in the worst-case scenario, but flyers are already being advised not to park their cars in the airport car park or any other low-lying areas.
“The risk of isolation is quite possible,” Cr Carter said yesterday. “People should be prepared to support their friends and relatives and top-up with emergency provisions.
“We have not yet seen the need to issue evacuation plans, but those in low-lying parts of the city need to consider self-evacuation and move their belongings to higher ground.”
He said the impending flood would “certainly be worse than 2008”, but it was impossible to predict with any accuracy at this stage if it could become as bad as 1991.
The Quay Street river height gauge showed yesterday just how quickly the situation was changing. The level rose by about half a metre overnight to 7.75 metres at 8am but had not risen further by noon. By 5pm yesterday it had risen to 7.85m.
Worried residents maintained a constant stream to the gauge yesterday to see the evidence for themselves as the city awaited its fate.
Joanne Hammond, supervisor at Foodworks Woody’s at Wandal, said the store had been flat out with four registers running through the afternoon.
“We’ve run out of full cream milk, we’ve run out of bread, we’ve just been flat out,” Joanne said.
Though stocks would be replenished tomorrow, Joanne said people had certainly been buying up.
The Bully heard similar stories from customers at Woolworths who’d had trouble finding parks.