Australia TILTING and BACKWASHING:
/ MUCH of north-western NSW is underwater, with 16,500 of its people isolated. /
Queensland declared disaster zone as flooding worsens across two states
Parts of Queensland have been declared a disaster zone as the flooding continues to worsen on both sides of the border. The State Emergency Service is making food and medicine drops to thousands of people isolated by the rising waters in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland. Source
/ Australia flood crisis deepens. Australia's flood crisis deepened Saturday as authorities braced for waters to peak in Queensland where one woman is missing after being swept away while elsewhere thousands remain stranded by the surge. /
At Mitchell in south-western Queensland, it's the worst flood on record. Half of the town's residents have been relocated, as the Maranoa River reached its highest peak since 1965. RESIDENT: It is very high, it's scary. RESIDENT II: I've been here 60 years and I've never seen it like this. Source
Australia flood crisis deepens
SYDNEY, February 4, 2012 (AFP) -- Australia's flood crisis deepened Saturday as authorities braced for waters to peak in Queensland where one woman is missing after being swept away while elsewhere thousands remain stranded by the surge.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said eight military helicopters would help in search, evacuation and resupply missions in the eastern state, where days of heavy rainfall have prompted hundreds of evacuations and dozens of rescues.
"The helicopters will be available to assist in rescue operations as required until the immediate crisis has passed," Gillard said in a statement.
In the inland Queensland town of Charleville authorities are on alert amid fears a temporary levee will collapse as the Warrego River continues to rise, flooding the whole town.
The weather bureau's Paul Birch told the ABC the situation was "touch and go" as the water will be "rushing in quick over the levee".
"If it does that you find it tends to erode out part of the levee fairly quickly. So then it will just open up the river into town -- it's quite catastrophic," Birch said.
Mayor Mark O'Brien said hundreds of people had been evacuated from their homes but so far Charleville itself was "high and dry".
"We've just got an enormous body of water going down the river, but if this thing passes quickly people can just go straight back to the way they were before," he told the ABC.
In the town of Roma to the east, police were continuing their search for a woman missing since Friday after her vehicle was swept off the side of a road.
"A boy was rescued from the car and a woman got out of the vehicle but rescuers could not keep hold of her," police said in a statement. "The woman was swept away in fast flowing flood waters."
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, who just over a year ago was dealing with epic floods that swamped the state, sweeping away entire hamlets and flooding thousands of homes, has warned the community faced dangerous new territory.
In New South Wales, the State Emergency Service said 16,550 people were stranded with the worst affected areas around Moree in the state's far north where floodwaters are expected to remain at their peak for one or two days.
"At this height the properties on the north side of the Mehi River in Moree will remain isolated with many properties surrounded by floodwater and some, possibly in excess of three hundred, inundated," the service said.
SES assistant commissioner Andrew Edwards said while the rain was easing, the amount of flooding in the region and to the north meant that "we can expect these floods to be going on for months" in some pockets.
Australia suffered epic floods late 2010 and in the January 2011 which swamped a huge area of Queensland, inundating thousands of homes and businesses, sweeping away small villages and leaving more than 30 people dead.
Towns brace for lingering crisis
MUCH of north-western NSW is underwater, with 16,500 of its people isolated. The State Emergency Service is working overtime to limit the damage, but water from the bulging Namoi and Darling rivers is expected to be topped up by Queensland floodwaters and could reach as far as Bourke by next month.
Towns including Moree, Narrabri and Gunnedah are still reeling from the damage caused by floods last year, and now they face a repeat of that crisis.
In Queensland, police divers are continuing their search for a woman swept from her car by floodwaters in Roma on Friday.
A spokesman for the NSW Emergency Services Minister, Mike Gallacher, said the public cost of the latest floods had already reached $5 million, but was expected to far exceed this as more of the state was declared a natural disaster area.
Last night, the Mehi River was receding at Moree - where floodwaters reached a peak of 10.6 metres - and the first 500 of the town's evacuees were allowed to return to their homes in north Moree to assess the damage.
The Narrabri mayor, Robyn Faber, was looking forward to waters receding to 6.1 metres in her town by tonight, but she said that would be when the hard work began.