Friday, December 17, 2010

Four people dead in Australian Floods...

A fourth person has died as the flood crisis worsens across Australia, with at least four states and territories on high alert for thunderstorms and heavy rain.
  
Farmers have watched their livelihoods swallowed by the deluge and thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes, with the tragedy of the situation compounded by yet another death.
  
Today, the body of a man, aged in his 50s, was found in a car that had been driven into Denison Creek at Oxford Downs in central Queensland a few days earlier.
  
Witnesses said the driver passed other cars that were stopped on the roadside waiting for the floodwaters to subside.
  
It's the third flood-related death in Queensland.
  
On Saturday night, an elderly man whose utility was swept off a flooded causeway in central Queensland was found dead, 35 kilometres south of Rockhampton.
  
The man, identified as Alan Kane, went missing on Friday night at Bajool.
  
A 55-year-old woman died last week when her car was swept off a flooded roadway near Dysart, northwest of Rockhampton.
  
Tragedy has also stuck in the central west of NSW, with the discovery of a woman's body today afternoon in waters about 500 metres from her abandoned vehicle in Goonumbla, northwest of Parkes.
  
NSW remains in the grip of flooding with 30 areas now declared natural disaster zones after Queanbeyan was hit by a deluge yesterday night.
  
About 100 houses and businesses were evacuated and 10 people were rescued by boat in what is being described as a one-in-20-year event.
  
Battle-weary emergency crews in Wagga Wagga are continuing their vigil in the regional city.
  
The Murrumbidgee River is expected to peak at 9.7m sometime tomorrow, potentially putting even more of North Wagga under water.
  
Aerial scans today of the nearby towns of Tarcutta and Tumut showed the impact of massive deluges overnight, with farms and homes inundated causing the closure of the Hume Highway near Tarcutta Creek.
  
The weather bureau is predicting the rain band that wreaked havoc in Queanbeyan will move north.
  
Authorities are worried it will pose problems for areas such as Coonamble in northwestern NSW.
  
Further south, towns in northeast Victoria remain on flood alert as the Ovens, King and Broken rivers are expected to peak tomorrow, although rain has eased across the state.
  
Myrtleford, Wangaratta and Benalla in the northeast are also on rural flood alerts into tomorrow.
  
The SES says a key focus for emergency teams is also the town of Harrow in the state's west where the Glenelg River is forecast to peak tomorrow.
  
About 10 property owners have been warned of potential flooding.
  
The largest rainfall recorded was 158mm at Mongans Bridge, outside Mansfield, and 145mm in Mt Buller.
  
"We've had extensive rural flood in northeastern Victorian and there are a small number of properties that may be inundated or isolated over the next couple of days," SES spokeswoman Jilly Charlwood said.
  
It's lucky no lives were lost in South Australia's floods, with many communities having as little as 15 minutes' notice of the looming disaster.
  
"This was one of the most significant weather events in this state for a lot of years," said SES assistant chief officer Matthew Maywald.
  
"People were lucky they didn't lose their lives.
  
"A number of people chose to drive through floodwaters and there were a number of rescues."
   
Maywald said in most cases the worst of the water and storm damage occurred over a 15-minute time frame.
  
"In a lot of cases it had happened and was flowing out before it was even reportable," he said.
  
Meanwhile in Queensland, residents of Rockhampton have been sandbagging homes in preparation for a 7.8m flood peak expected early next week.
  
The Bureau of Meteorology predicts the Fitzroy River will reach seven metres over the weekend and peak at 7.8m on Monday or Tuesday.
  
The flood could cut off some homes for a wee

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