6 Jan 2011

Exhausted Queensland crews get much-needed help

9:27 pm on 6 January 2011

Reinforcements have arrived to help exhausted Australian emergency services crews with flood recovery in Queensland.

Authorities say the worst is over in the city of Rockhampton, but flood levels are likely to remain high for days.

The Fitzroy River peaked at 9.2 metres on Wednesday - 20 centimetres lower than predicted - but conditions in the city remain dangerous, the ABC reports.

River levels are subsiding and emegency services have revised the number of houses inundated from 400 down to 150 on Thursday.

Further south, residents of Theodore have started returning to the town, but will have to spend the night in a nearby mining camp as the town is made safe.

A team of 23 volunteer emergency workers from the state of Victoria arrived in Queensland on Thursday afternoon.

A group of experts from New Zealand is expected to join the recovery effort on Saturday.

However, more heavy rain is predicted. Whole suburbs are already flooded, the airport is shut and the Bruce Highway to the south is a lake.

The Queensland floods cover an area the size of France and Germany. About 200,000 people in 40 communities are affected.

More heavy rain for the state has been predicted.

Taskforce chief appointed

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh announced on Wednesday a flood recovery taskforce will be led by Major General Mick Slater.

The process will based on the response to Cyclone Larry in 2006.

Major General Slater says one of his first duties will be to talk to Major General Peter Cosgrove, who headed the Innisfail rebuilding project after Cyclone Larry in 2006.

Ms Bligh says the disaster is unprecedented and the bill could be well above $A5 billion.

She says 1200 homes across the state have been inundated by floodwaters so far, with another 10,700 homes affected and 4000 people evacuated.

Ms Bligh says an unparalleled rebuilding effort will be needed.