Southeast Qld ‘shuts down’ ahead of deluge
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.
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.