'Enough is enough': Gympie mayor
Four floods in a year is "starting to wear thin" in Gympie but the mayor says locals are a "mighty resilient crowd" who will "get through this together".PT1M54S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2f39p 620 349 February 26, 2013
It’s all too familiar for Gympie locals.
The southeast Queensland town - a two hour drive north of Brisbane - is bracing for its fourth flood in a year, after a surface trough dumped more than 200 millimetres of rain over the region in 48 hours.
Water rising at Nelson Park in Gympie. Photo: Craig Warhurst – The Gympie Times
Queensland’s latest deluge has claimed one life and prompted flood-fatigued residents in low-lying towns to flee to higher ground.
‘‘We’re nervous,’’ resident Mandi Flikweert said.
The town's flood peak has been revised up from 18 to 19 metres.
Gympie's Pengellys Bridge under water. Photo: Tanya Easterby/Gympie Times
Gympie Mayor Ron Dyne said the new predicted peak could see about 40 or 45 businesses inundated, as well as four houses.
The river is set to peak about midnight, or in the early hours of Wednesday.
However, the predicted peak is one metre lower than the level reached almost exactly a month ago when more than 100 businesses and homes went under.
About 10 businesses in Gympie had floodwater seeping through their front doors on Tuesday afternoon.
The Mary River reached 17.04 metres by 3.40pm.
Ms Flikweert, a waitress at Gympie’s Empire Hotel on Mary Street, said staff had emptied the pub’s basement cold room in anticipation of the worst.
Rachael Smith gave birth on the bathroom floor of her Palmvale home after her property was cut off by flooding. Photo: Nine News
‘‘Before it hits our hotel the river has got to get to 19 metres, but it looks like we’re going to get close,’’ she said.
‘‘Everyone’s quickening their pace, trying to get home earlier.’’
She said the floods were beginning to ‘‘feel like a weekly event’’.
‘‘We’re certainly used to it, that’s for sure,’’ she said. ‘‘We’re hoping for the best at this stage.’’
Cr Dyne said the community was flood-fatigued.
‘‘Everyone is sick of the rain and sick of the sight of floodwater,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s really taking an impact on morale and people’s sense of humour is slipping rapidly.’’
However, there was evidence of Gympie’s community spirit in the town’s centre on Tuesday where a woman rescued a rare, metre-long lungfish from a flooded car park.
The endangered species is native to the Mary River and its presence there was instrumental in halting the development of the controversial Traveston Dam.
South of Gympie, a house was razed by fire about 9.45am on Tuesday after a flooded causeway stopped firefighters reaching the rural property.
Five fire crews rushed to the home on Eel Creek Road in Langshaw, a half hour drive south of Gympie, but were stopped by floodwaters.
The house could not be saved, but no residents were home at the time.
After an evacuation order for Lockyer Valley residents was cancelled on Tuesday, Bureau of Meteorology hydrologist Jess Carey said authorities would focus on Gympie and the rising Mary River.
"That's going to have our attention tonight," he said.
Missing woman found
Meanwhile, a woman missing near floodwaters in the Sunshine Coast hinterland managed to find her own way to safety after spending the night sitting on a stump in a leech-infested forest.
The woman was on her way home along Porters Road, Pomona, about 5.15pm on Monday when she was stopped by floodwaters.
She told rescuers she tried to walk home with her groceries, but was stopped her in her tracks by a fallen tree.
Police discovered her car about 12.30pm on Monday, but had to call off the search as the heavy rain intensified.
The search resumed at first light on Tuesday, but the woman managed to walk out of the forest by herself unharmed.
Elderly man drowns in floodwaters
However, an elderly man drowned after his car was swamped by water in Sandy Creek, 100 kilometres north of Brisbane.
Police were called to the scene about 4pm on Monday, as passers-by tried to save the 77-year-old man, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Geoff Doueal said much of southeast Queensland would get some reprieve from the driving rain on Wednesday.
The low pressure system responsible for the downpour has contracted north and weakened, he said.
No more than 10 millimetres of rain is expected in Brisbane on Wednesday and Thursday.
‘‘You might see the big fireball in the sky a little bit,’’ Mr Doueal said.
But any reprieve will be short lived, because a fresh rain band is set to move over the southeast corner on Friday.
‘‘We’re anticipating another upper trough system coming through with a wind change that will bring thunderstorms and rain,’’ Mr Doueal.
The heaviest falls of the past 48 hours were recorded in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
Cooloolabin Dam, west of Yandina, received 418 millimetres of rain, while the nearby town of Mapleton received 312 millimetres.
Meanwhile, Gympie recorded 282 millimetres of rain in the same period.
And Brisbane received 114 millimetres in 48 hours from Monday.
The city has exceeded its February rainfall average of 133 millimetres, with 226 millimetres of rain recorded since the beginning of the month.
Wivenhoe Dam has reached is at 98.3 per cent of its drinking supply capacity - jumping from about 88 per cent in 24 hours.
The dam's flood mitigation capacity is separate to its water supply capacity.
Somerset Dam was at 124 per cent capacity and rising on Tuesday morning.
- with Bridie Jabour