Mayor warns: Rocky may be cut off
THERE’S a “betting chance” all roads to Rockhampton will be cut over the course of the next week, Mayor Brad Carter warned yesterday.
Torrential rain in the Fitzroy catchment has raised the prospect of more serious flooding in Rockhampton later this week and the distinct possibility that the city will be isolated for the first time since 1991.
Cr Carter said: “There’s a real possibility the city will be cut off and I am asking residents to ensure they stock up on food, water and things like batteries.
“If you can, make sure your elderly and infirm neighbours have what they need to survive a couple of days too.”
He said rising levels in the rivers which flow into the Fitzroy would be topped up by further substantial rainfall over the next couple of days.
“I’m advised we can expect about 100mm on Tuesday and 100mm more on Wednesday before the rain eases.”
But he was confident Rockhampton Airport would remain open.
Up to 240mm was dumped in the headwaters of the Nogoa and Comet Rivers overnight on Sunday.
And with the possibility of further moderate to heavy falls across the Central Highlands until tomorrow, Emerald is on flood alert.
Mayor Brad Carter said yesterday there was a good chance the Fitzroy River in Rockhampton would rise significantly higher this week than it did before Christmas and well past the peak of 7.75 metres reached in 2008.
Although experts will gather in the city today to give more scientific predictions of the flooding that will bring a second wave of grief for low lying communities, Cr Carter said he expected more inundations and more voluntary evacuations. At least 200 homes are under threat. Forecasters believe the river won’t peak until next Tuesday.
And he warned that this year’s incredible rainfall was likely to become the norm over years to come as a result of climate change.
“With the unpredictability of the changing climate we are probably likely to see these high river levels at this time of year more regularly,” he said.
“I had hoped that, after the flooding in 2008, we would be spared for a while but there is a chance this could become the norm for us.”
Asked if more could be done to protect areas like Depot Hill he said he had no doubt that an engineering solution could be found to prevent flooding in the oldest part of the city.
“It would involve levee banks along the river, but the cost would be enormous and way beyond the means of the local council.
“There would have to be a major federally funded project. It’s enormously frustrating to know that there is very little we can do unless there is a huge commitment from the government.”
Cr Carter responded to criticism from Depot Hill residents about rubber neckers to repeat an appeal for people to stay away from flooded areas.
“I share those concerns. We have initiated enforcement action against people who drive past ‘road closed’ signs but neither the council nor the police have the resources to keep out visitors.
“Our first priority is to ensure the safety of members of the public in dealing with disaster management issues.”