By Eliza Rogers ABC – Tuesday, 29/01/2013
The last four days of horror weather across the Wide Bay Burnett region in south-east Queensland could mark the end of the line for some exhausted farmers.
Livestock has been washed away, crops have been ripped apart by tornadoes and floods, and irrigation systems have been ruined as the Burnett River broke the 1942 records and peaked at 23 metres in Mundubbera yesterday.
Executive officer for Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers, Peter Hockings, says it’s another huge setback for struggling operations.
“I know that a lot of the growers in the Gayndah/Mundubbera area have probably only just started to recover from flooding of two years ago financially, and then obviously Gayndah got hit by that massive hail storm in mid-December, so it’s going to be a real challenge for a lot of those growers.”
Massive rainfall of up to 28 inches in one day has devastated the east coast hitting the large Central Queensland industrial town of Gladstone with a record deluge. The Awoonga dam had 8.3 metres flowing over the spillway, the highest since it first spilled over in 1987. Mayor Gail Sellars told ABC News: ” We are in uncharted territory now.”
Thousands of Bundaberg homes and businesses have been inundated, just surpassing the 1942 flood levels. A fleet of helicopters, including two military Blackhawks has been plucking hundreds of people from rooftops.
Meanwhile the inland the towns of Gayndah, Mundubbera and Eidsvold have been smashed by raging floodwater after the remnant of the tropical cyclone dropped feet of water along the coast and hinterland.
For affected graziers, farmers and dairymen, who were only just beginning to recover from the huge wet of two years ago, this will be the final straw. One dairy farmer near Gayndah told the ABC how numerous cows and shipping containers were seen going over the Gayndah dam wall.
The main street of Gayndah, according to eyewitness reports, has been levelled.
Millions of tonnes of topsoil have been lost from cultivation paddocks, and most fencing has disappeared. Travelling irrigators and farm sheds have been damaged beyond repair after being smashed by large hay bales being pushed along by the floodwater.
In some areas floodwater was so fast, estimated at 18 kilometres an hour, that resuers could not enter the water to save victims.
This time the damages bill will be many hundreds of millions of dollars.
Brisbane has been spared similar damage to the Wivenhoe dam debacle two years ago, but many thousands of homes have gone under.
For the Bob Browns and climate change junkies, just remember there was a similar situation in 1942. Was there any global warming then? I Think not. Everybody was too busy fighting the Japs and Germans in WW2. (Ed)
Bundaberg residents in disbelief as record flood inundates the southern Queensland city
The expected flood peak for Bundaberg is predicted to be about a metre higher than the previous record flood of 1942. Caitlyn Gribbin speaks to a man who saw both floods, and who was rescued from his house by boat this time around.