South East Queensland (SEQ) and Northern New South Wales continues to deal with the impacts of dangerous flooding and rainfall, causing construction, road, school and building closures and leaving many locals homeless and seeking refuge. 

Local residents are being asked to stay at home and avoid all non-essential travel.

The record breaking flooding began in SEQ, with the wild weather then moving to Northern New South Wales, with the town of Lismore underwater since 28 February, following the worst flooding in recorded history. 

Queensland Transport and Main Road Minister, Mark Bailey, said, “There are now hundreds of road closures across South East Queensland, so we are asking people to stay off the roads to allow emergency services to respond to what’s unfolding.”

Several areas in SEQ have only just seen flood waters reduce from January’s floods. Disaster assistance has been swiftly activated for the affected areas.

Minister for Emergency Management and National Recovery and Resilience, Senator Bridget McKenzie, said there were now 17 councils activated for jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) assistance in response to the unfolding events.

The 17 local Queensland government areas activated for DRFA assistance for this event are: Brisbane, Fraser Coast, Gold Coast, Gympie, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Logan, Moreton Bay, Noosa, North Burnett, Redland, Scenic Rim, Somerset, South Burnett, Southern Downs, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba.

Queensland Minister for Fire and Emergency Services, Mark Ryan, said this had been a phenomenal event in terms of rainfall, with more than 1,100mm dropped at Mount Glorious, north-west of Brisbane, over recent days.

“The Department of Transport and Main Roads has reported more than 1,000 roads have been closed or have restricted access and parts of the Bruce, Warrego and Cunningham highways have been cut off,” Mr Ryan said.

Flood waters dislodge crane in Brisbane River

On 28 February the flooding caused a crane being used to build a pedestrian bridge in Brisbane’s CBD, the Kangaroo Point Green Bridge, to come loose from its moorings and float aimlessly along the Brisbane River. 

The crane weighs 150t and is attached to a pontoon weighing 400t.

Due to rapidly moving flood waters in the river, the crane poses a risk to infrastructure in the water and out – with those near the Howard Smith Wharves, and parts of Brisbane CBD, told to evacuate. 

Queensland Police Minister, Mark Ryan, said that the pontoon has since been tethered down, and that Maritime Safety Queensland staff are working on fixing the dangerous situation. 

Water treatment plants impacted by relentless rainfall 

This extreme weather and heavy rain has impacted the Mt Crosby and North Pine Water Treatment Plants which both went offline on 28 February 2022. This is as a result of extreme rainfall and flooding washing soil and debris into the creeks and waterways, which flow into the treatment plants.  

The cloudiness in the water has increased by up to 100 times the normal amount. 

Seqwater crews have been working to get the treatment plants back online and have been able to return North Pine, while Mount Crosby is still offline.

The Gold Coast Desalination Plant is being used to help supplement supplies while work continues. 

Seqwater is working closely with its water supply partners, Urban Utilities, Unitywater and Logan City Council to keep people updated.

Ipswich residents in low lying areas are encouraged to prepare for further flooding, as days of heavy rain combine with Wivenhoe Dam releases which commenced at 4am 27 February 2022. 

New flood modelling available on the Ipswich City Council Disaster Dashboard includes the impact of the Wivenhoe Dam releases and shows that low lying areas of Goodna will be significantly inundated as well as some areas in Karalee and Barellan Point.

Local Disaster Management Group Chairperson, Mayor Teresa Harding, said council modelling has raised concerns water could enter properties near the upper Brisbane River and its tributaries such as the Bremer River.

“Heavy rain has continued to fall overnight, and we are seeing higher levels of inundation to low lying areas across our city, especially in parts of Goodna and Bundamba where some residents needed to be evacuated in the middle of the night,” Ms Harding said.

“Further flooding in lower areas of Bremer River and Warrill Creek are possible, depending on further Wivenhoe Dam releases.”

Over the 27-28 February up to 200mm has fallen in the Bremer Catchment.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services has advised that people should seek shelter, avoid driving through floodwater and using telephones during thunderstorms, and be aware of fallen trees and powerlines. 

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