South­east Qld ‘shuts down’ ahead of del­uge

The Dominion Post - - World -

AUS­TRALIA: South­east Queens­land was shut down yes­ter­day, work­ers went home and more than 2000 schools were closed as the re­gion braced for flash flood­ing from up to half a me­tre of rain ex­pected to fall in the next 24 hours.

Ex-trop­i­cal cy­clone Deb­bie is drench­ing the south­east, with flood­ing al­ready clos­ing some roads in the Gold Coast, Sun­shine Coast and Bris­bane ar­eas.

The Queens­land gov­ern­ment or­dered every school in the re­gion to shut, from Agnes Wa­ters in the north, the NSW bor­der in the south and west to Nanango.

This in­cludes 763 state schools, 1286 Catholic and pri­vate schools and 546 child care cen­tres.

In Bris­bane, univer­sity and TAFE cam­puses closed early, all the theme parks on the Gold Coast were shut and beaches along the en­tire south east­ern coast from Mackay were also closed.

Bris­bane has al­ready recorded a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours but the worst is yet to come, with au­thor­i­ties say­ing the heav­i­est falls will oc­cur overnight yes­ter­day.

Bris­bane’s av­er­age March rain­fall is 110mm but parts of the city have al­ready seen more than that in the past day.

Dam­ag­ing winds of 90kmh, and pos­si­bly gust­ing to 125kmh, were also ex­pected along the coast.

State Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Ian Ste­wart warned peo­ple in the south­east not to underestimate the dan­ger.

‘‘We’re not send­ing a mes­sage that you might have 400 or 500 mil­lime­tres of rain in a par­tic­u­lar area - it could ac­tu­ally hap­pen ev­ery­where,’’ he warned.

Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk, who’s back in Bris­bane af­ter vis­it­ing cy­clone af­fected ar­eas, said Deb­bie was far from done with Queens­land.

‘‘Ev­ery­one thinks be­cause the cy­clone has now been down­graded to a low pres­sure sys­tem, that ev­ery­thing’s OK,’’ she told Nine Net­work.

‘‘This is the time where we can see max­i­mum dam­age and also loss to hu­man life.’’

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the risk posed by flash flood­ing was real, un­der­pin­ning the un­prece­dented de­ci­sion to close all south east­ern schools, or­der pub­lic ser­vants to leave work early and put on free pub­lic trans­port to get peo­ple home be­fore the worst of the weather hits.

Just af­ter 10am, Queens­land Rail said in­bound ser­vices from Bowen Hills to New­mar­ket had been sus­pended.

- AAP

PHOTO: FAIRFAX

Aus­tralian Chief of the De­fence Force Air Mar­shal Mark Bin­skin with La­bor leder Bill Shorten look at the dam­age be­low from an army he­li­copter. Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull and Shorten vis­ited the cy­clone dam­aged area of Bowen in north Queens­land yes­ter­day.

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