NEWS

Rockhampton Residents In 'High Spirits' While Preparing For More Flooding

The Fitzroy River is expected to peak at 9 metres on Thursday morning.

04/04/2017 2:35 PM AEST | Updated 06/04/2017 8:13 AM AEST
Twitter/Jonathan Hair - ABC News
Rockhampton is preparing itself for further flooding from the Fitzroy River.

Residents of Rockhampton are staying in high spirits in their preparations for the Fitzroy River to pass peak levels on Thursday; they've seen major floods before and know what they need to do to be ready.

A major flood warning was issued for the city on Tuesday after the Fitzroy River was measured at 7.75 metres. It is expected to rise above major flood levels of 8.50 metres and peak at 9 metres on Thursday morning, according to a statement released by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) on Tuesday.

"Latest estimates would place the flood peak around the 9.0 metre mark, which is now likely to be in the early hours of Thursday morning and a little later than forecast earlier in the week," said Queensland Regional Hydrology Manager for the BoM, Victoria Dodds.

"While this places the level below that of 1954 (9.4 metres), and below that of 2011 (9.2 metres), Major Flooding is still expected for the Fitzroy River at Rockhampton, and local emergency services anticipate a number of homes and business will be inundated.

"We also expect this to be a broad flood peak, and need to be prepared for a wait of up to 48 hours before flood waters begin to subside."

Local residents in the city, which has a population of around 84,000, are already evacuating as parts of the city become inundated with rising water, with authorities urging them to secure their properties and stay clear of any rising floodwaters.

An evacuation centre has also been set up at the Robert Schwarten Pavilion in Rockhampton for anyone who could be affected by the flooding and are unable to relocate to the homes of friends or family.

While many are preparing for the rising water, the manager of the Fitzroy Hotel in Rockhampton, Tiona McGuigan told The Huffington Post Australia most local residents are still in high spirits and familiar with floods after the 1954 and 2011 emergencies.

"The atmosphere here and the spirit of the community is really, really good and we're all sticking together as a team and riding it out together," she said.

"[Residents] are all in very high spirits and most of them have been through floods before and done it all before and know that there's not much else they can do other than to prepare."

A bartender at the Victoria Tavern, who wanted to be known only as Gypsy, also said the community has reacted positively to the flood warnings and are staying relaxed.

"Everybody is really cool about it. It's kind of like, we've been through it all before so everyone's pretty well prepared," she said.

"The customers I've spoken to said they've lifted everything up high or moved their furniture to friends' houses but the feeling is pretty easy-going.

"I just asked the customers how their houses are going and they say 'yeah we'll be right, everything's good'. Nobody seems to be too anxious or worried about it.

"There's a real sense of community. We all look after each other and people ask if you're okay."

There are some in Rockhampton that are calling the imminent flooding in the wake of ex-Cyclone Debbie event a "once in a hundred years" weather event after no rain was seen in the city over the past four days.

BoM meteorologist James Thompson said it's all about the Fitzroy Basin, a catchment area of 142,665 square kilometres, that has been collecting rain water from Cyclone Debbie for a week and slowly moving it into the Fitzroy River.

"The rivers that go into the Fiztroy River, one had quite a lot of rain as ex-tropical cyclone Debbie tracked south. We're waiting for that rain to get into the river and down into Rockhampton, which can take quite a while because the catchment is quite large," he said.

As parts of south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales begin cleanup efforts in the aftermath of ex-Cyclone Debbie, the warning comes after three people lost their lives in the emergency, while a mother and two children died after becoming trapped in a car that had entered the Tweed River on Monday.

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