Residents who refused to evacuate their Far North Queensland homes as severe storms and rain lashed the area over the weekend are being urged to stay out of the floodwater due to the sighting of crocodiles.
With “major flooding” still occurring in remote Burketown and the Gregory River, Queensland Police warned locals on Monday there have been croc sightings in the debris.
Officers said it is “unsafe for displaced people to return to their homes”, and residents should try and conserve water usage due to the town’s sewage and water treatment plants being offline.
Almost 100 residents were evacuated in Burketown at the weekend after river levels exceeded seven metres, surpassing the 2011 record of 6.78 metres, and making it the town’s worst-ever flood. Another 120 people were evacuated across the shire.
Thirty-seven houses had power disconnected as they were inundated in floodwaters, while about 70 residents remained in the area with limited electricity.
Air assets are stationed nearby and on standby for emergency rescues and transport of food, water and medical supplies, Queensland Police have assured.
“Water reserves and food supplies are good, and resupply continues. Telstra Services have also been restored to the area,” Senior Sergeant Adrian Rieck from the Mount Isa District Disaster Coordination Centre said.
“If any residents are concerned, they are encouraged to contact their local police or council officers. Your safety is of paramount importance, and we thank you for working with emergency services while we continue to respond to the impacts of flooding in the region.”
Floodwaters starting to ease
Weeks of torrential rain have overwhelmed the region's rivers, leaving dozens of communities such as Doomadgee, Normanton and Karumba stranded on islands amid a vast inland sea. Vision filmed from helicopters shows water covering many buildings to their roofs, with only one or two streets in the centre of the town still untouched.
With floodwaters slowly starting to ease in Burketown, emergency services have now turned their attention to the township Urandangi, with 16 people evacuated so far in preparation for rising waters.
Burke Shire mayor Ernie Camp told ABC News Breakfast water levels had dropped 400mm on Monday morning, bringing some positive news for the region, but that it would be some time before the full extent of the damage was revealed.
While it will continue to ease, the river level along the Albert River at Burketown Airstrip is expected to remain above the major flood level of six metres on Monday and Tuesday, possibly longer, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
Massive croc spotted 8km from closest river
Last week, a Queensland man spotted a crocodile lurking in water in Lakefield, on the Cape York Peninsula.
Startling images show the croc’s head barely visible above the water “about 8km from the closest river or creek in a small waterhole where soil had been removed for road works,” John Griffith wrote on Facebook.
“The crocodile didn't look that big at the start. Then it came out of the water. It was about 12 feet long (3.6m),” he said.
The “only sign” the beast might have been in the area was a pile of feathers from a dead bird nearby, Mr Griffith added, urging people to be “croc wise”.
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