Heavy rain, flood threat dampen start to new year

The threat of dangerous flooding has returned as heavy rain continues to batter parts of southeast Queensland and northern NSW in a wet start to the new year.

Intense falls in some areas from Gympie south to the NSW border could lead to life-threatening flash floods, the Bureau of Meteorology warned on Monday afternoon.

Campers have been evacuated from multiple sites in the southeast and people have been urged to stay off the roads.

State Disaster Co-ordinator Shane Chelepy said the Gold Coast had been drenched, with Currumbin Creek receiving 571mm of rainfall in 24 hours, Upper Springbrook 350mm, Mount Tamborine 161mm and Pimpama more than 375mm.

“We’re seeing landslides occurring on our roadways, we’re seeing washouts,” he told reporters on Monday.

He said the rain was hindering work to restore power to areas cut off when storms lashed the southeast on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

“We now know the clean-up is going to be far greater than the clean-up we had from Christmas Day and Boxing Day,” he said.

A flood warning has been issued for the Nerang, Pimpama and Coomera rivers, where water levels are expected to continue rising with periods of intense rain.

“Our waterways and infrastructure aren’t built to withstand such a large amount of rain over such a short period of time,” meteorologist Miriam Bradbury said.

“As a result, flash flooding is also a risk in these parts as well as other hazards we associate with floods such as landslips and adverse driving conditions.”

Evacuation centres have opened at Nerang Bicentennial Community Centre, Coomera Indoor Sports Centre and on Tamborine Mountain.

Emergency Management Minister Nikki Boyd said there had been 400 calls for SES help from residents in the 24 hours to Monday afternoon and the QFES had conducted 10 swift water rescues.

Twenty roads on the Gold Coast were closed on Monday because of flooding, with access to the Pacific Motorway cut at two places.

QFES Deputy Commissioner Kevin Walsh said the rain event was expected to continue for the next 24 hours.

“If there is no compelling reason to be out on the road, can I suggest, over the next 12 hours at least people stay in their homes,” he told reporters on Monday.

Queensland’s southeast has been lashed by severe weather since Christmas Day, with storms leaving more than 100,000 residents without power.

Mr Chelepy said the dangerous conditions had forced Energex crews working to restore services to stand down on Monday morning.

Acting Environment Minister Grace Grace told reporters 80 to 90 per cent of those affected now had their power restored but those still without might have to wait until Friday to be reconnected.

“There are still some areas around Jimboomba, Mount Tamborine where we’re having to rebuild the network,” she said.

“We’ve got every available crew on deck making sure they can restore them but with weather like today and the severe weather warning is causing a bit of havoc with that.”

Flash floods could also impact northern NSW, with residents in Lismore, Tweed Heads, Murwillumbah, Byron Bay, Casino and Kyogle told to stay informed about developing conditions.

Persistent showers are expected to continue overnight Monday into Tuesday with potential three to six-hourly rainfall totals between 80mm and 160mm and 24-hourly totals exceeding 250mm.

“Localised intense rainfall is possible under areas of persistent heavy thunderstorms,” the bureau said.


Keira Jenkins, Duncan Murray and Suzanne Simonot
(Australian Associated Press)


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