Flood hits Australian towns, residents evacuated

and heavy rainfall in Australia`s Queensland state forced evacuations in several towns today as river surged to near record levels.

Last Updated: Dec 28, 2010, 13:00 PM IST

Melbourne: Flooding and heavy rainfall in
Australia`s Queensland state forced evacuations in several
towns today as river surged to near record levels.

Brisbane and at least 30 other central Queensland towns
were facing flood alerts after incessant rains flooded rivers,
prompting the state government to declare Chinchilla, Dalby
and Theodore as disaster-hit zones, where mass evacuations are
taking place, media reports said.

In Alpha, Jericho and Warra, residents may soon be asked
to moved out.

Flooding has also forced evacuations in several New South
Wales towns, but conditions in the state are expected to ease
today.

One of the worst hit Queensland towns is Theodore, where
Dawson river reached record levels overnight and at least five
helicopters were chartered to evacuate 350 residents to a
mining camp at Moura, authorities said.

Queensland government declared Theodore a disaster area
amid what is being called the town`s worst flood in history.

Emergency Management Queensland boss Bruce Grady said the
situation in the town was dire. "The Dawson has experienced
record flooding overnight and we`re actually looking to
evacuate the entire township of 350 residents."

Grady said, "The town is actually under water. I think
the police station is the only place that`s currently dry."

Banana Shire councilor Vaughn Becker noted the evacuation
was voluntary at this stage, but expected almost entire town
to go.

Acting mayor Maureen Clancy of Banana Shire said
residents were resigned to the fact they have to leave the
town.

There were very small pockets that were not under water
but the vast majority of the town was submerged.
She said the Dawson river remained at a dangerous level
of 14.17 metres, and continued to rise. "It`s exceeded the
1956 flood level that`s been used as a benchmark for many,
many years."

The town`s evacuation began at first light and residents
were waiting patiently for choppers to take them out, she
said. "They`re just resigned to the fact they`re going to have
to be relocated for a short time."
Weather bureau hydrologist Jeff Perkins said several
towns in southern and central Queensland were inundated last
night, while eight others were bracing for severe flooding in
the next 24 hours.

Dalby, Chinchilla, Warwick, Roma may have faced the worst
as nearby rivers level off and forecasters predict a reprieve
from the rain, Perkins said.

PTI