4 Jan 2011

Raw sewage and power blackouts in flooded city

8:30 pm on 4 January 2011

Residents of Rockhampton are having to deal with raw sewage, swarms of mosquitoes and power blackouts - and now the possibility of poisoned snakes and crocodiles as well.

But with the flood peak still to come on Wednesday, emergency services say the situation is going to get even worse.

Mayor Brad Carter says water could stay at the peak for 48 hours and remain high for more than a week.

All roads to the south are already impassable, and the single road still open to the north, the Bruce Highway, may soon be awash. Transport links to the city could then be cut for up to two weeks.

Parts of the CBD are already underwater and business owners are sandbagging streets a day before the Fitzroy River's expected peak of 9.4 metres.

More than 500 houses have been evacuated, but some residents are still refusing to leave their homes.

The ABC reports the floodwaters are filled with sewage and debris.

Residents are also being warned to beware of poisonous snakes and possibly even crocodiles in the water.

Rockhampton airport is already closed and the Australian Defence Force is deploying three Black Hawk helicopters to fly in food and other supplies.

At ceiling height in some places

Rockhampton police say floodwaters rose 15 centimetres between midnight and 9.30am local time on Tuesday. About 400 houses and 50 businesses are now inundated, with another 1200 houses surrounded by water.

On the south side of the city, the water level in some areas reaches ceiling height.

The ABC reports the floods have also made it hard for travellers returning home from summer holidays - and any reprieve from the rain that has caused the flooding could be short-lived.

A Queensland weather forecaster, Gordan Banks, says more heavy rainfalls are expected for some of the flood zones.