Thousands Evacuated From Queensland Floods

By Elisabeth Behrmann – Feb 5, 2012 11:37 PM GMT+0000

Thousands of Australians have fled their homes as flood waters threatened to engulf parts of the country’s northeast inundated by last year’s deluge.

The town of St George was being evacuated as record flooding risks covering the area 500 kilometers (311 miles) west of Brisbane, the capital of the state of Queensland.

Most residents left yesterday, with a final evacuation scheduled this morning, a spokeswoman for the Queensland Police Service said by phone. Police closed the remaining access road to St George as water from a local dam flowed over the road.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered after forecasts showed upstream rivers rising quickly, with the Balonne River possibly peaking at 15 meters (49 feet), according to a government statement issued yesterday. That compares to a previous peak of 13.4 meters in 2010.

Floods in Queensland and the neighboring state of New South Wales, where more than 16,500 people were stranded yesterday, have ruined homes and ravaged agricultural crops. The deluge has caused an estimated A$50 million ($54 million) of damage, New South Wales Minister for Emergency Management Robert McClelland said in a Feb. 3 statement.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting scattered showers and some thunderstorms over parts of Queensland while conditions will be mostly fine elsewhere, according to information on the bureau’s website.

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