25 Jan 2013

Dramatic rescues as central Queensland floods

3:26 pm on 25 January 2013

Dramatic rescues have been carried out in central Queensland, with parts of Rockhampton underwater after its wettest day in more than 60 years.

Rockhampton councillor Bill Ludwig said on Friday many streets in the city are under water, and "very destructive winds" are also being felt from the low pressure system that was cyclone Oswald.

The system is currently sitting about 120km west of Mackay and is expected to cause flooding in communities further south in coming days, AAP reports.

Mr Ludwig said the situation in Rockhampton is serious, and told residents to stay off the streets.

"They're saying this is not a cyclone but it's not far off it," he told ABC News 24 on Friday.

He said he wasn't game to leave the building where he was on Friday, because the wind had left a large sheet of corrugated iron flapping from a nearby building. "I haven't seen water like this on our roads. I've come in from a rural location and it was pretty hairy to say the least."

There have been about 20 swift water rescues in central Queensland overnight and on Friday morning.

The most dramatic happened in the Rockhampton suburb of Frenchville, where a rescuer was swept away after dragging a 14-year-old boy to safety.

The rescuer was able to make his own way to safety, but not before he was swept under a nearby bridge, the ABC reports. The boy has been taken to hospital as a precaution.

Meanwhile, a house in Frenchville has been hit by a large landslide, the Department of Community Safety told AAP.

The house is still standing but debris is piled up against the first floor of the two storey house in Archer View Terrace. No one was injured and the residents have called for council help.

There have been numerous other rescues, including one by a bystander who dragged a motorist to safety from his flooded car after he tried to drive through floodwaters at Kabra, west of Rockhampton. The driver was taken to hospital in a stable condition.

More than 70 roads, including major highways, have been cut by floodwaters across the state, since Oswald was downgraded to a low after crossing the Cape York Peninsula's west coast on Tuesday.

The Bureau of Meteorology said Rockhampton had recorded its wettest day since 1939, with 349mm falling in the 24 hours to 9am (AEST) on Friday.

The city is expected to get at least another 100mm over Friday. But by Saturday, the heaviest falls are expected to be further south.

At this stage, authorities are not expecting the Fitzroy River to break its banks at Rockhampton but it is expected to reach minor flood levels.