The weir crossing Mt Crosby at about 5pm Monday.
The weir crossing Mt Crosby at about 5pm Monday. Contributed/Len Smith

Flooding like '74: Pisasale

THE IPSWICH region was devastated by heavy flooding and extreme weather today as storms lashed the south-east.

In the Lockyer Valley and Toowoomba 13 people are dead and dozens are still missing with the search hampered by fierce weather.

Ipswich residents who were affected by the 1974 floods were told to evacuate today, with suburbs at risk including Woodend, West Ipswich, One Mile, Redbank Plains, Churchill, North Booval, Brassall, Karalee.

The Bremer River at Ipswich is expected to reach 18 to 19 metres by tonight before rising further.

A bridge at Fernvale was washed away this morning and six people were reported to be stuck on roofs at Nadu Street, Fernvale waiting for rescue.

Ipswich police had received about 50 calls for help from people on roofs in the region by mid-afternoon today including Prenzlau.

The rescue efforts of the defence forces, SES, police and firefighters were delayed across the region due to hundreds of roads being cut off by flood waters.

An Ipswich police spokesman said he had 250 jobs on the screen this afternoon.

A landslip on the Marburg range caused difficulties for SES this morning but volunteers were able to evacuate two adults and a child who were clinging to a roof at Minden.

Fernvale resident Michelle Varley evacuated her home at 8.30 this morning while water lapped under the floorboards to seek shelter at a friend’s house.

"It looks like a lake," Mrs Varley said.

"It’s been a pretty harrowing morning. We’ve got no idea what our house is like now.

"But we’re safe and alive so that’s the main thing."

Residents at Hatton Vale and Minden were being evacuated Monday night due to rapidly rising waters.

Forest Hill residents were told to move to the School of Arts Hall, Railway Street, Forest Hill today where they were evacuated from the town by Black Hawk helicopter to Gatton.

Linda Lerch, who lives near Forest Hill, said her husband Greg was across the road this morning stacking hay bales outside her in-law’s house to slow the rushing flood waters.

"I’ve got an ocean in my front yard here - all I can see is water," Mrs Lerch said.

"It’s covering all the farms, probably 70 per cent of my farm is covered in water and it’s just rushing.

"I’m in a high set house so I think it’ll be okay but my in-law’s across the road are in a low house so we’re quite concerned about them.

"It’s pretty scary at the moment."

Farmer Linton Brimblecombe said he was stuck at Toowoomba today and could not return to his property at Forest Hill.

He said family members were still at Forest Hill.

"My brother-in-law described the flood at being at biblical proportions," Mr Brimblecombe said.

"It’s completely surrounded by water."

People who live in the southern areas of Laidley are being ordered to leave their homes today and move to the Laidley Works Depot, Frome Street or the Laidley Hospital.

Homes in the low-lying areas of Laidley were inundated with water steadily rising along Patrick and William streets with boats being used in the main street.

Businessman Gary McNeish’s Ramnet internet and computer shop was awash with floodwater.

"In the ten years I have been operating here, this is the worst flooding I’ve ever seen," Mr McNeish said.

Evacuations were also conducted at Toogoolawah, Esk and Mount Tarampa.

The Riverlink Shopping Centre at North Ipswich closed at midday today due to heavy rain and flooding lashing the Ipswich region.

A spokeswoman for Riverlink said the centre closed at midday due to staffing issues and safety concerns.

"We’d prefer the retailers to be home and safe rather than at the centre," the spokeswoman said.

"We ask that customers avoid the shopping centre."

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said experts had advised the region was likely to see flood levels similar to the 1974 floods.

"River heights are expected to remain high for the next one to two days," Cr Pisasale said.

"Residents in flood prone areas should make immediately plans to self-evacuate, and where possible with relatives and friends."

Somerset Regional Council Deputy Mayor Neil Zabel was stuck at his home at Lowood today and said the Lockyer Creek was at record levels.

"We’re on an island," Mr Zabel said.

"We can’t get anywhere really, every road to Esk is cut."

Ipswich train line services have been suspended between Roma Street and Corinda and replaced with buses.
Trains beyond Ipswich on the Rosewood line have been cancelled.

The Warrego Highway was closed at Blacksoil today, with water three feet over the highway at Haigslea, and traffic was slow along the Ipswich Motorway in both directions due to flooding.

All Somerset, Scenic Rim and Lockyer Valley residents are being urged to conserve water due to the impacts of local flooding on water infrastructure.

Water Grid spokesman Dan Spiller said vital water infrastructure in these regions had been damaged by flood waters, cutting off the raw water supply.

"We are therefore urging residents to restrict all non-essential use until further notice," Mr Spiller said.

People are urged not to make phone calls unless absolutely necessary to avoid clogging the network.

Some mobile phone networks were down today as a result of flooding.

No indication has yet been given as to when people can return to their homes.

The rain is expected to ease tomorrow.

The Wivenhoe Dam is currently at 173 per cent and rising and the Somerset Dam is at 160 per cent.

The Amberley recording station has received 95.4mm of rain from 9am to 2pm today.

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