5 Feb 2019

Two bodies found in north Queensland floodwaters

5:57 pm on 5 February 2019

Two bodies have been found in floodwaters at Townsville in north Queensland.

no caption

An aerial shot of the flooding in Townsville on 4 February. Photo: AFP / Queensland Fire and Emergency Services

The grim discovery was made at Aitkenvale.

Police had been searching for two men in their 20s after an alleged break and enter in the area.

The pair was last seen early yesterday with fears they may have been swept away.

Overnight, emergency crews ferried dozens of people to higher ground and saved a man stranded on the roof of a car in suburbs north of Townsville as floodwaters rose again.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Service crews were called 95 times to help people to safety in Bluewater, north of Townsville, after intense rainfall caused more flash flooding in the suburb - the town recorded 1.8 metres of rain within seven days.

A handout picture provided by Queensland Police Service, taken on February 2, 2019 and release on February 3 shows two police officers wading in flood waters in Townsville. -

Two police officers wading in flood waters in Townsville Photo: AFP

The SES fielded calls for 400 jobs overnight with one man rescued after becoming trapped on the roof of his car in Bluewater.

Meanwhile, residents in the small community of Balgal Beach, about 50 kilometres north east of Townsville, spent the morning cleaning up after 200mm of rain overnight.

Gwen Cooms called her local police officer when she woke to water swirling at her front door in the middle of the night.

Officer Darren Haggarty said he wasn't expecting what he saw when he arrived.

"I just couldn't believe what I saw ... there were just wades of water coming through the shed and [patio].

"It was just like a tsunami."

Ms Cooms said some belongings cannot be replaced.

"A washing machine and a dryer probably, you can buy that again can't you. But the thing I worry about is photos that you can't replace," she said.

"I lost a little girl when she was three and a half and I can't replace that photo. So it's pretty sad."

Resident Michael Nieminen said floodwaters rose rapidly again at his Bluewater property.

"Last night it was crazy," he said.

"We had another lot of flash flooding come through, we had water come right up in the back yard again, similar to last week, not as high luckily but a lot of rain and a lot of water up stream.

"It's really quiet here at the moment because everyone is just that tired because everyone's been cleaning for the last few days trying to pick up the pieces.

"Especially the poor people that had their houses flooded."

Valarie Thompson said she was awoken by the rain at 2:00am and hasn't been able to leave her Forestry Road home since Saturday.

"It was absolutely pouring with rain so I'm a bit tired now. We were keeping our eye out under the house to see if it would come back again," she said.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said the monsoon trough will remain active for days - and with it the risk of more flash flooding.

"So there is an end in sight but we're expecting further periods of heavy rainfall, some of it very heavy, about the north-east tropics for the next few days between about Cardwell and Mackay," forecaster Richard Wardle said.

He said severe weather warnings would likely remain in place for the Herbert, Lower Burdekin, and central coast for several days.

"With that we expect to see more episodes of that real intense heavy rainfall that could lead to flash flooding."

"We see the flood risk continuing for the remainder of the week and into next week, particularly for those larger river systems."

Possibly thousands of homes flooded

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner, Katarina Carroll, said flooding had hampered official checks but thousands of homes may have had water over their floorboards.

"If I was to say several hundred I could get that wrong, it might be thousands," she said.

"Particularly when you get the aerial shots and you go into the suburbs that are effected it's easily hundreds and it could be thousands ... I couldn't give you an accurate figure at this stage."

About 1000 people in Townsville have been evacuated from their homes and more evacuation centres were opened yesterday to house those who had nowhere else to go.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is touring Townsville today meeting with residents whose homes have been flooded.

"You get inside and that's where you see all the damage," he said.

"It's not just the property damage, it's the shock.

"I mean these were their dream homes, they've come and they've built them ... and a year down the track they're facing this."

He said the recovery effort would be difficult.

"People are rallying around and that's fantastic. But in the next day it's the shock as people come back into their homes and that's when they're going to need emotional support from friends and family and their community."

State Disaster Coordinator Bob Gee urged Townsville residents who left their homes to remain patient.

"We're in a difficult time, particularly in Townsville we're in response mode. It's not safe to go into those homes, it's not safe to go into floodwaters."

The Bruce Highway has now reopened allowing supplies to be brought into Townsville.

Egon Energy warned it could still be days before power is restored to thousands of people without electricity.

About 11,300 homes remain without power after it was cut to protect the safety of suburbs in the rising flood waters.


Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs