Damn Rain! Dams are bursting all over the world. Australia. Ross River dam is currently at 178% capacity. More than a year’s worth of rain.
Queensland floods: emergency dam release as Townsville hit by 1.1 metre of rain
Up to 100 more homes face flooding after mayor orders high-risk plan to open floodgates on the Ross River dam. One hundred homes could be flooded in Townsville after the city’s mayor sanctioned the high-risk release of dam water to save the area from more widespread inundation following more than 1.1 metres of rain.
Announcing the emergency measure for the Ross River dam on Friday, the mayor Jenny Hill said there were no guarantees the plan would work. Between 90 and 100 homes downstream from the dam were being evacuated, she added.
Townsville has had a year’s worth of rain in the past week, the Bureau of Meteorology has said, and heavy rain was set to continue over the coming days, keeping already swollen rivers at major flood levels. The Bruce highway linking the city with the rest of the state to the south was cut off on Friday and police had been given extra evacuation powers after the state premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, declared a disaster situation. She ordered schools and childcare centres in the flood zone to remain closed on Friday, saying it was the best option to keep children safe.
Dam releases would exceed what was usually allowed under Townsville’s emergency action plan but Hill said authorities had no choice, with more days of torrential rain ahead. “What we’re trying to do is to get ahead of the system, so we reduce the risk of any further flooding in the city – but that’s not guaranteed,” she told reporters on Friday The dam is currently at 178% of capacity and the Ross River is dumping a record amount of rain into the sea. We haven’t taken this decision lightly,” she said, adding army and SES workers were door-knocking at-risk homes to help people sandbag and get them to move.
The homes to be evacuated because of the dam release were in Cluden, Rosslea, Hermit Park, Oonoonba, Idalia and Railway Estate. Queensland fire and emergency services commissioner Katarina Carroll said more resources had been brought in to cope with the disaster. She said there had been 28 rescues in recent days, including people caught in flash flooding and trapped on roofs. “We have had 50 houses already impacted in some way through inundation or structurally but I expect that to rise as well,” she told reporters.
Dr Richard Wardle from the Bureau of Meteorology said the Townsville area had been swamped with more than a year’s worth of rain. “The annual rainfall for Townsville is 1.1 metres. We’re seeing more than that at the moment. We’re going to see places get two or three times their summer average rainfall amounts.”
Some areas could get up to 400mm a day, for the next few days, due to a very active and slow moving monsoon trough. In Wulguru, Kerry Guinea was tucked up in bed when a huge roar heralded a landslip that inundated his yard with tonnes of mud and rock. “It sounded like a jet roaring,” he sai. “I went out in the dark and there was mud everywhere, there’d be hundreds of tonnes, it’s huge. Bits of trees, log and goodness knows what have washed down.”
A man believed missing overnight at Giru, south of Townsville, was found safe and well on Friday morning. Police spent the night searching for a 32-year-old man last seen on foot near Black Gully about 5pm. It was feared he had tried to enter floodwaters in an attempt to get home, but police said on Friday he had stayed the night with a friend.
The Bruce Highway remained cut south of Townsville and there were major disruptions to the city’s transport services, with most urban and school bus services affected by the deluge. At 6am, the Bureau of Meteorology said the heaviest falls were occurring over Townsville. It said falls up to 200mm in six hours were possible on Friday. “Creek and river catchments are already saturated and will therefore respond very rapidly to any rainfall,” it warned. “The monsoon trough is expected to remain active into next week, with further heavy rainfall expected for already saturated catchments between about Cairns and Bowen. The potential for significant and dangerous flash flooding will likely continue into next week.”