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Father and daughter forced to cling to tree for two days as Cyclone Tiffany bears down on Queensland

A father and daughter miraculously survived being washed away by cyclone-induced floods by clinging to a tree for two days. 

The pair spent two nights clinging to branches surrounded by deep floodwaters in Gympie in the Wide Bay-Burnett region of Queensland about 1pm on Sunday. 

The father explained he and his primary-school aged daughter were forced to evacuate their car when they got trapped and water began filling the vehicle.

The aftermath of ex-cyclone Seth continues to wreak havoc on the Wide Bay-Burnett region (pictured, emergency services in Maryborough)

The major flood emergency has seen 141 requests for SES assistance in the North Coast region from Friday morning to Saturday afternoon (pictured, flooding in the town of Maryborough)

The major flood emergency has seen 141 requests for SES assistance in the North Coast region from Friday morning to Saturday afternoon (pictured, flooding in the town of Maryborough)

As they stood on the car’s roof, they were swept into a tree which they climbed, the girl’s father returning to the car for a rope to tie them tightly to the branches. 

Thankfully, the pair were able to return home after the floodwaters briefly subsided to raise the alarm and be rescued by the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter crew. 

The father and daughter were airlifted to a regional hospital to receive treatment for insect bites, dehydration and sun exposure. 

They were just one of a series of dramatic rescues unfolding across Queensland as elsewhere locals battled to save their town after a levee failed. 

The aftermath of ex-cyclone Seth continues to wreak havoc on the Wide Bay region, where a record 670mm of heavy rain was dumped in just 24 hours over the weekend.

Conditions will only get worse in parts of the state as a second cyclone – Tiffany – barrels towards the coast.

The major flood emergency has seen 141 requests for SES assistance in the North Coast region from Friday morning to Saturday afternoon. 

A 22-year-old’s body was found in a submerged ute in Kanigan, north of Gympie, on Saturday after the vehicle was swept away about 7.30pm on Friday. 

A man has been airlifted to hospital after a large tree fell and crushed his car in the South Burnett region at about 11:30am on Sunday (pictured)

A man has been airlifted to hospital after a large tree fell and crushed his car in the South Burnett region at about 11:30am on Sunday (pictured)

Emergency crews found the man pinned inside his car with the tree still on top of it, working for two hours before the man was finally released (pictured)

Emergency crews found the man pinned inside his car with the tree still on top of it, working for two hours before the man was finally released (pictured)

Police also hold grave fears for a 14-year-old girl swept away while abandoning a flooding Toyota Camry with a 40-year-old man early on Saturday morning. 

Meanwhile, a man was airlifted to hospital after a large tree fell and crushed his car in the South Burnett region about 11.30am on Sunday. 

Emergency crews found the man pinned inside his car with the tree still on top of it, working for two hours before the man was finally released.  

Paramedics treated him for multiple traumatic injuries, and his wife and passenger for minor injuries, before airlifting the pair to hospital. 

Four other motorists were rescued from rising water, two a couple in the North Burnett region who were waved a sheet to attract the attention of rescuers. 

The couple’s white camper-van had become completely surrounded by water on all four sides during a journey from Airlie Beach to the Sunshine Coast. 

Paramedics treated him for multiple traumatic injuries, and his wife and passenger for minor injuries, before airlifting the pair to hospital (pictured, the fallen tree)

Paramedics treated him for multiple traumatic injuries, and his wife and passenger for minor injuries, before airlifting the pair to hospital (pictured, the fallen tree)

Four motorists have been rescued from rising water, two a couple in the North Burnett region who were seen waving a sheet to attract the attention of rescuers

Four motorists have been rescued from rising water, two a couple in the North Burnett region who were seen waving a sheet to attract the attention of rescuers

They told rescuers their GPS has directed them off the Bruce Highway – severely damaged in some parts by floods – and onto roads that were quickly going under.

With no phone service or understanding of the weather emergency, the couple were forced to move their van constantly for 24 hours as waters continued to rise.

‘We were just so lucky, where we moved to – if we had stayed at the side of the road that night we probably would have been taken away,’ the woman told crews. 

Another couple taking refuge in their black SUV were also rescued after they turned off the Bruce Highway and quickly found themselves surrounded by water. 

On Saturday, dramatic video of the LifeFlight Rescue Sunshine Coast helicopter showed rescuers winching a family of three from their Fraser Coast home.   

On Saturday, dramatic vision of the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Sunshine Coast helicopter was seen winching a family of three from their Fraser Coast home

On Saturday, dramatic vision of the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Sunshine Coast helicopter was seen winching a family of three from their Fraser Coast home

Meanwhile, residents of Maryborough on the Fraser Coast fought to save their town into the night after a plan was hatched by the local council. 

The storm water system failed in the town, nearly 300km north of Brisbane, on Sunday – prompting the urgent evacuation order accompanied by loud sirens.  

The $6.03 million levee system, which incorporates a temporary steel wall and a portable pump station was funded by the state government after a series of floods. 

The steel wall was erected around the town after heavy flooding in 2011 and 2013.  

The Fraser Coast Regional Council told residents to evacuate ‘all premises’ inside Maryborough’s CBD as images of a local Woolworths revealed rising water levels.  

‘The gates underneath the recently installed levee have been damaged, and as a result the CBD will now bear the full impact of the flood,’ the council said.

The storm water system failed in the town at about 2pm on Sunday - prompting the urgent evacuation order accompanied by loud sirens (pictured, the flooded Woolworths carpark)

The storm water system failed in the town at about 2pm on Sunday – prompting the urgent evacuation order accompanied by loud sirens (pictured, the flooded Woolworths carpark)

Rapid Relief Team volunteers have provided catering to emergency services workers and locals displaced by the flooding

Rapid Relief Team volunteers have provided catering to emergency services workers and locals displaced by the flooding

‘Police are providing assistance with the emergency evacuation and we urge people to stay out of the CBD.’

Council crews have been tirelessly manning twelve large diesel pumps in the towns city centre which can remove about 120 litres of water a second. 

Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour told the Courier Mail he thought the efforts of pumps and generators were ‘really going to limit the damage’. 

Wide Bay Burnett District Superintendent Michael Sawrey told reporters on Sunday afternoon a stormwater valve had failed which led to CBD flooding.  

He said about 20 local businesses in the CBD were impacted by the flooding but this could balloon to 50-70 businesses.  

Floodwaters from the Mary River in Maryborough were expected to exceed the major flood level at about 10pm on Sunday, at 10.5m, impacting 80 homes.

Among the dramatic scenes, a small bull shark was spotted by residents swimming in the Maryborough’s Queens Park after a grey fin appeared in the debris. 

Wide Bay Burnett District Superintendent Michael Sawrey said about 20 local businesses in the CBD were impacted by the flooding but this could balloon to 50-70 businesses (pictured, floodwaters impacting businesses)

Wide Bay Burnett District Superintendent Michael Sawrey said about 20 local businesses in the CBD were impacted by the flooding but this could balloon to 50-70 businesses (pictured, floodwaters impacting businesses)

The floods are expected to impact about 50-70 businesses in Maryborough (pictured, stormwaters rising in the local Woolworths)

The floods are expected to impact about 50-70 businesses in Maryborough (pictured, stormwaters rising in the local Woolworths)

Floodwaters from the Mary River in Maryborough (pictured) were expected to exceed the major flood level at about 10pm on Sunday, at 10.50 metres, impacting 80 homes

Floodwaters from the Mary River in Maryborough (pictured) were expected to exceed the major flood level at about 10pm on Sunday, at 10.50 metres, impacting 80 homes

The Mary River at Gympie peaked at about 13.6 metres early Sunday afternoon and 19.86 metres at Miva, but was expected to fall below the major flood level overnight. 

Meanwhile, Tropical Cyclone Tiffany has strengthened to a category 2 storm and is just hours from making landfall in far north Queensland, the Bureau of Meteorology is reporting.

‘People between Cape Tribulation and Coen, including Cooktown, should complete preparations quickly and be prepared to shelter in a safe place,’ the bureau says.

The cyclone which formed in the Coral Sea is expected to cross into Queensland between Cooktown and the Lockhart River sometime on Monday night.

The bureau is warning communities to expect wind gusts of up to 130km/h as the centre of the cyclone makes landfall.

Tiffany was sitting about 190km northeast of Cooktown late on Sunday.

It is expected to bring destructive winds and heavy rain to communities in far north Queensland before moving into the Gulf of Carpentaria on Tuesday and intensifying as it moves towards the Northern Territory coast.

Floodwaters have impacted dozens of homes in Maryborough in the wake of former tropical cyclone Seth (pictured)

Floodwaters have impacted dozens of homes in Maryborough in the wake of former tropical cyclone Seth (pictured)

The cyclone is expected to cross into Queensland between Cooktown and the Lockhart River sometime on Monday night (pictured, floods in Maryborough)

The cyclone is expected to cross into Queensland between Cooktown and the Lockhart River sometime on Monday night (pictured, floods in Maryborough)

Tropical Cyclone Tiffany has strengthened to a category 2 storm and is just hours from making landfall in far north Queensland (pictured)

Tropical Cyclone Tiffany has strengthened to a category 2 storm and is just hours from making landfall in far north Queensland (pictured)

Severe tropical cyclone coastal impact in the Northern Territory is possible on Wednesday or Thursday, the bureau says.

‘People in far north Queensland communities will start seeing and feeling the effects of Tropical Cyclone Tiffany as it comes closer to the coast, which means an increased risk of flooding and some localised damage in these regions,’ Senior Meteorologist Dean Narramore said.  

On Sunday morning, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said emergency services were readying for the cyclone.

‘So to all the residents in those areas please be on the lookout, I know that they know how to deal with these events,’ she told reporters.

‘They’re very well prepared and we’ll be keeping a very close eye on that.’

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