Two thirds of Queensland flooded; "disaster zone" declared

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Monsoonal rains in Queensland, Australia have caused massive flooding over two thirds of the state, and led Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts to declare the town of Emerald a disaster zone.

The floods, which first hit the north part of the state a week ago, have since spread as far south as Charleville, where they have been compared to the floods which struck the town in 1990 and 1997, and stand in stark comparison to the drought that has plagued the area since 2003. Authorities believe that temporary floodbanks, erected near the town, will hold back the waters.

More than 2,000 people have evacuated from Emerald, and more than 200 homes are on standby to evacuate. According to Acting Mayor Kerry Hayes, "[t]he shopping centres are basically short of bottled water, bread and milk obviously and a lot of baby necessities", which will be brought in by rail as the town is currently cut off by road.

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, who visited Charleville, has pledged federal support during the disaster. Damage from the floods is predicted to be as high as $A1 billion.