Residents of the city of Rockhampton, located between Mackay and the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia are preparing for major flood, possibly the worst since 1956.
Over the weekend, authorities said as many as 8 000 homes and 20 000 people could be affected as the water level in the Fitzroy River that runs through the center of Rockhampton starts to swell. At the time, water levels were expected to peak on Wednesday night, April 5, 2017, at 9.4 m or 9.5 m (30.8, 31.2 feet). The peak water level has since been downgraded to 9 m (29.5 feet), just under the 2011 flood level. However, despite the downgrade, the city is still under a major flood warning.
The flooding to hit Rockhampton and surrounding areas would be unlike that which hit the Gold Coast and parts of the New South Wales, Ian Stewart, Queensland police commissioner, said.
“This is not something that will suddenly happen, but water will gradually rise in Rockhampton and surrounding areas,” he said.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Saturday thousands of homes would be affected. "This is going to be big, some people living in this town have not seen a flood of this magnitude, because the last time in 1954," she said.
Katerina Carrol, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Commissioner, said residents in Rockhampton would need to spend the next few days preparing for the record floods.
"Please listen to your local authorities and the warnings you are about to get. The airport and other roads and rail into the area will be cut off long before the peak floods hit, so please prepare now," she said.
Video courtesy Roberto Leones Masini
As of Monday, April 3, 2017, at least five people have died as a result of Tropical Cyclone "Debbie." Three people in Queensland are still missing. Thousands of homes remain without power in Bowen and Prosperine, the worst hit area.
Featured image: Fitzroy River in Rockhampton, Australia on April 2, 2017. Credit: Roberto Leones Masini