13 Jan 2011

Queenslanders facing huge effort to rebuild

10:39 pm on 13 January 2011

Queensland's premier says rebuilding the flood-stricken state will take an effort of post-war proportions.

The Brisbane River peaked at 4.46 metres on Thursday morning below its projected level and 1 metre below the peak of floods in 1974 which killed 16 people.

Up to 30,000 homes and businesses in the city of Brisbane have been partially or fully flooded this week, while the death toll in the state climbed to 15 on Thursday.

In the latest deaths, a man was killed in Brisbane after being sucked into a storm drain, apparently while checking on his father's property. Another body has been discovered in the Lockyer Valley region, west of Brisbane.

Sixty-one people are still missing, most from the Lockyer Valley. Police also have grave fears for 12 missing people after floods hit the town of Toowoomba on Monday.

However, police say no bodies were found in the wreckage of up to 30 crumpled cars wedged under Grantham's railway bridge at the height of the floods.

The small town of Goondiwindi in the south-west is on high alert on Thursday night, with fears the flooding Macintyre River could breach the town's 11-metre levee bank before dawn.

State premier Anna Bligh says the damage is extremely widespread and some Brisbane residents currently in evacuation centres may be able to look at their inundated homes "some time" over the weekend.

"They won't be able to get in to clean them until they've had electrical certification and are made safe."

Next week, they may be able to begin the "heartbreaking business" of cleaning up and rescuing possessions, but it may be months before they can move back into their homes, she says.

Thousands still without electricity

More than 100,000 customers are still without power across Brisbane and to the west in Ipswich, where floodwaters are receding rapidly after Wednesday's peak.

About 200 extra police are being brought in to patrol the flooded areas and from Monday will begin round-the-clock patrols on streets in the worst-affected areas.

The state's police commissioner says there is no need for a curfew to discourage any opportunistic looters.