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Emergency alerts warn more than 20,000 homes could be submerged in catastrophic floods

Desperate warnings have been issued over fears up to 20,000 homes are at risk as torrential rain causes severe flooding in North Queensland.

The region has been battered by torrential downpours – with more than a metre of rain falling in the space of just four days. 

Townsville Police District acting Chief Superintendent Steve Munro has urged residents in vulnerable areas to start thinking about whether they want to stay or flee.

 

Desperate warnings have been issued over fears up to 20,000 homes are at risk as torrential rain causes severe flooding in North Queensland

Up to 300 homes had already been affected by flooding by Saturday afternoon

Up to 300 homes had already been affected by flooding by Saturday afternoon

Rivers and creeks are bursting their banks and dams are overflowing from a massive monsoonal deluge that has dumped more than the annual rainfall in a week

Rivers and creeks are bursting their banks and dams are overflowing from a massive monsoonal deluge that has dumped more than the annual rainfall in a week

Up to 300  homes had already been affected by flooding by Saturday afternoon, he told the Courier Mail. 

‘If we keep going the way we are going we are going to move towards 10,000-20,000 homes so people need to start thinking.’    

Rivers and creeks are bursting their banks and dams are overflowing from a massive monsoonal deluge that has dumped more than the annual rainfall in a week.

Panicked residents are dealing with flash flooding and land slips in a ‘disaster area’ stretching 700km from Cairns to Mackay.

Authorities have told residents to charge their devices in preparation as the worsening flood waters threaten the city’s power supply.

More than 5000 homes have already been left without power as the storm rages.

Townsville HHS director of public health Dr Steven Donohue urged parents to keep an eye on children as they had never witnessed flooding at this level before.

‘During floods we see tragedies where children are sucked into drains or culverts, even in shallow water.’

The Bureau of Meteorology has indicated that the conditions in Townsville might worsen.

Townsville is at the epicentre of the one-in-100 year event, with some areas expecting 400mm over the weekend. The city has been declared a disaster zone.

Striking images showed roads and houses totally submerged by heavy flooding while 100 soldiers were called in to help stricken residents prepare for the worst (Pictured: Rosslea residents take their boat around floodwaters)

Striking images showed roads and houses totally submerged by heavy flooding while 100 soldiers were called in to help stricken residents prepare for the worst (Pictured: Rosslea residents take their boat around floodwaters)

Residents in North Queensland are being told to move to higher ground on what is expected to be the worst day of a catastrophic flood disaster (Pictured: Townsville floods)

Residents in North Queensland are being told to move to higher ground on what is expected to be the worst day of a catastrophic flood disaster (Pictured: Townsville floods)

The Bureau of Meteorology has warned communities in North Queensland the heavy rainfall and flooding could last well into next week (Pictured: Rainfall forecast over the weekend)

The Bureau of Meteorology has warned communities in North Queensland the heavy rainfall and flooding could last well into next week (Pictured: Rainfall forecast over the weekend)

Queensland residents have been urged to seek safety as authorities are forced to open dam doors (pictured) even further as the state battles a one-in-100 year monsoon

Queensland residents have been urged to seek safety as authorities are forced to open dam doors (pictured) even further as the state battles a one-in-100 year monsoon

It's causing flash flooding and land slips in a disaster area that stretches 700km from Cairns to Mackay (Pictured: flooding in Rosslea, Townsville)

It’s causing flash flooding and land slips in a disaster area that stretches 700km from Cairns to Mackay (Pictured: flooding in Rosslea, Townsville)

More than 400 army personnel have been called into the area, helping locals to keep calm and they assist them with sandbagging. 

Authorities have provided more than 36,000 sandbags throughout the area, with council crews filling 10,000 of them as the flooding intensifies. 

‘This is not a one-in-20-year-situation – it is a one-in-100 year event. Please take care on the roads there could be flash flooding. And if it’s flooded – forget about it,’ Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said. 

Ms Palaszczuk said the next 24 to 48 hours were  ‘crucial’, as she urged people in the area to heed warnings.

The Premier said the situation was ‘unprecedented and uncharted’ and ensured locals to listen to authorities and not panic. 

Bruce Gunn from Bureau of Meteorology expects the peak in the rainfall to hit on Saturday night and continue into next week.

‘There’s several more days to go in this flood event,’ he said.

More than one hundred homes near the Ross River in Townsville are expected to be deliberately flooded as the spillway gates were opened to ease pressure. 

More massive falls are expected on Saturday in disaster-declared Townsville, which is at the epicentre of the one-in-100 year event (Pictured: Rosslea residents take their boat around floodwaters)

More massive falls are expected on Saturday in disaster-declared Townsville, which is at the epicentre of the one-in-100 year event (Pictured: Rosslea residents take their boat around floodwaters)

Townsville Local Disaster Management Group Chair Mayor Jenny Hill said the decision to open the spillway gates further was not taken lightly (Pictured: flooding in Townsville)

Townsville Local Disaster Management Group Chair Mayor Jenny Hill said the decision to open the spillway gates further was not taken lightly (Pictured: flooding in Townsville)

More than 400 army personnel have been called into the area, helping locals with sandbagging and keeping them calm (Pictured: army personnel assist a family evacuating rising flood waters)

More than 400 army personnel have been called into the area, helping locals with sandbagging and keeping them calm (Pictured: army personnel assist a family evacuating rising flood waters)

Late Friday night, the city’s mayor made the ‘difficult’ decision to open them further, meaning homes within the catchment of the Ross River dam faced flooding in order to prevent an even greater catastrophe downstream.

The dam was at 200 per cent capacity by Saturday morning – while authorities went door to door telling people they should leave at-risk homes. 

Dozens of homes have been swamped since the flooding began with schools and businesses shut, thousands displaced and evacuation centres opened.

State Disaster Coordinator Bob Gee urged people to seek safe places and said there were more than enough police checking people’s abandoned property.

On Saturday morning, people in eight areas had been texted with warnings to urgently move to higher ground.

These include Bohle River, Saunders Creek and Stoney Creek and the suburbs Deeragun, Jensen and Burdell – Black River, Blue Water, Beach Holm, Yabulu and Toolakea.

Dozens of homes have been swamped since the flooding began with schools and businesses shut, thousands displaced and evacuation centres opened (Pictured: army personnel assisting with flood evacuations)

Dozens of homes have been swamped since the flooding began with schools and businesses shut, thousands displaced and evacuation centres opened (Pictured: army personnel assisting with flood evacuations)

The Heatley Secondary College is operational as an evacuation centre for those who need safety (Pictured: Flooding in Townsville)

The Heatley Secondary College is operational as an evacuation centre for those who need safety (Pictured: Flooding in Townsville)

The city's mayor made the 'difficult' decision to open them further, meaning homes within the catchment of the Ross River dam faced flooding (Pictured: Flooding in Rosslea, Townsville)

The city’s mayor made the ‘difficult’ decision to open them further, meaning homes within the catchment of the Ross River dam faced flooding (Pictured: Flooding in Rosslea, Townsville)

Further north, coastal communities on the Gulf of Carpentaria have been told to prepare for the highest tides of year as the monsoon trough whips up gale force winds.

QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll said there’s been 38 rescues over the last few days as teams successfully cleared 80 people from their homes overnight. 

‘That’s ranging from rescuing people caught in flash flooding, minor flooding and major flooding, caught on roofs, you name it,’ Ms Carroll said. 

Police (pictured) have urged those in affected areas to reconsider unnecessary travel over the weekend

Police (pictured) have urged those in affected areas to reconsider unnecessary travel over the weekend

Queensland police have reminded residents that flood water (pictured) is dirty and full of hazards lurking under the surface 

Queensland police have reminded residents that flood water (pictured) is dirty and full of hazards lurking under the surface 

Authorities have provided more than 36,000 sandbags throughout the area, with Council crews filling 10,000 of them as the flooding intensifies (Pictured: floodwaters in Townsville)

Authorities have provided more than 36,000 sandbags throughout the area, with Council crews filling 10,000 of them as the flooding intensifies (Pictured: floodwaters in Townsville)

Townsville Local Disaster Management Group Chair Mayor Jenny Hill said the decision to open the spillway gates further was not taken lightly (Pictured: Man walks through flood water in Rosslea, Townsville)

Townsville Local Disaster Management Group Chair Mayor Jenny Hill said the decision to open the spillway gates further was not taken lightly (Pictured: Man walks through flood water in Rosslea, Townsville)

 An emergency alert for residents in Cluden, Rosslea, Hermit Park, Oonoonba, Idalia and Railway Estate has been issued by QFES amid the conditions (Pictured: lone tree in raging floodwaters on the Ross River)

 An emergency alert for residents in Cluden, Rosslea, Hermit Park, Oonoonba, Idalia and Railway Estate has been issued by QFES amid the conditions (Pictured: lone tree in raging floodwaters on the Ross River)

Forecasters said at the beginning of the day another 200mm of rain could be dumped over the region on each of the next few days (Pictured: Flooded rowing facility on the banks of the Ross River)

Forecasters said at the beginning of the day another 200mm of rain could be dumped over the region on each of the next few days (Pictured: Flooded rowing facility on the banks of the Ross River)

Residents in the Rosslea, Railway Estate, South Townsville, Idalia and Oonoonba areas have been warned their properties could be flooded as a result (Pictured: Floodwaters at Black Weir in Townsville)

Residents in the Rosslea, Railway Estate, South Townsville, Idalia and Oonoonba areas have been warned their properties could be flooded as a result (Pictured: Floodwaters at Black Weir in Townsville)

An emergency alert for residents in Cluden, Rosslea, Hermit Park, Oonoonba, Idalia and Railway Estate has been issued by QFES amid the conditions.

‘If residents are concerned about their safety they are strongly urged to evacuate immediately, by the safest route possible,’ QFES said. 

Townsville Police District acting chief superintendent Steve Munro and Ms Palaszczuk have both said they were behind the decision to release water from the dam.

‘We’re very comfortable with the decision they have taken and of course by opening up the gates it’ll let a substantial amount of water out,’ Ms Palaszczuk said at a conference.

‘Can I just urge all Townsville residents there just to make sure that they are following all those emergency alerts.’

QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll said there's been 38 rescues over the last few days as teams successfully cleared 80 people from their homes overnight (Pictured: floodwater in Townsville homes)

QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll said there’s been 38 rescues over the last few days as teams successfully cleared 80 people from their homes overnight (Pictured: floodwater in Townsville homes)

Police spent Thursday night searching around Giru for a 32-year-old man last seen on foot near Black Gully about 5pm on Thursday (Pictured: Townsville floodwaters)

Police spent Thursday night searching around Giru for a 32-year-old man last seen on foot near Black Gully about 5pm on Thursday (Pictured: Townsville floodwaters)

 Supermarkets have taken a hit amid the panic and stocks have slowly dwindled over the day (Pictured: Townsville landslide)

 Supermarkets have taken a hit amid the panic and stocks have slowly dwindled over the day (Pictured: Townsville landslide)

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