A SLOW RISE: Steven Kasper captured the Condamine River as it appeared Sunday morning after significant rainfall.
A SLOW RISE: Steven Kasper captured the Condamine River as it appeared Sunday morning after significant rainfall.

FLOOD WATCH: Downs urged to prepare as more falls predicted

THE Southern Downs swung from one extreme to another as waterways rose to destructive levels this week, prompting the Local Disaster Management Group to stand on alert.

Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie issued a public alert late Wednesday night and said the saturated ground meant heavy rain could flood the local government area.

Localised flooding forced the closure of more than 30 roads as the rising Condamine and Weir Rivers impacted Warwick and Stanthorpe surrounds, with Pratten and Leyburn particularly hard hit.

"Residents need to take care and look at every situation," Cr Dobie said.

"We've already seen flooding cause property damage for primary producers, whether it's vehicle and equipment that's become bogged or fencing that has washed away."

 

 

 

FLOODING FLASHBACK: The Condamine River flowing over Wallace Street Bridge after floods in 2008.
FLOODING FLASHBACK: The Condamine River flowing over Wallace Street Bridge after floods in 2008.

 

 

 

 

The Southern Downs is known for its susceptibility to flooding and at the Condamine River's largest recorded height of 9.1m in 1976, more than 1000 people were left homeless and more than 100 homes were damaged.

The horrific experience had a long lasting impact on the community, prompting greater precautions to be made within both local government and the community.

The LDMG co-ordinates the region's disaster response and recovery, working together with emergency services to ensure residents' safety.

On Wednesday night, the group prepared for further road closures and possible evacuations, according to the Mayor.

 

 

 

'BACK UP: The second crossing along Bents Rd in Ballandean became impassable this week.
'BACK UP: The second crossing along Bents Rd in Ballandean became impassable this week.

 

 

 

The region experienced low-level flooding but the group's larger concerns did not eventuate.

"We stood down from the alert at 10am Thursday on the advice of BOM," Cr Dobie said.

"But we will see some of those floodwaters flow down the Condamine and council staff have been rostered on over the weekend to be available for any road closures necessary."

BOM meteorologist Shane Kennedy said the threat of flooding dropped today despite consistent rainfall forecast over the weekend.

"The risk of widespread heavier falls has decreased but there is still the chance of heavy falls within slow moving thunderstorms," Mr Kennedy said.

"They're just likely to be more isolated."

Higgins Storm Chasing forecasters said severe showers and storms should return on Tuesday and Wednesday, with rainfall totals expected to remain above average.

Real estate agent Helen Harm has faced significant floods three times over the past 10 years and said she feared the next flooding event could be significantly worse.

"More clearing has happened therefore there's more run-off," Ms Harm said.

"The trees used to hold things together and the rain used to fall a lot more gently than it does now."

Ms Harm estimates recent constructions in town will push floodwaters much higher than they have been in the past.

"The water went halfway up the wall last time, so if what I'm thinking is right it'll add another metre of water and the whole wall will be impacted," she said.

"That will double my bill."

For some, however, the damage is already done.

"Water has come into paddocks, into homes, and that comes at a cost to those residents," Cr Dobie said.

Disaster Management co-ordinator Pia Fletcher urged people across the Southern Downs to take steps to prepare as major flooding events could occur well into April.

"Get an emergency plan in place, have an emergency kit on hand and have enough supplies to get through at least three days," Ms Fletcher said.

"And remember, if it's flooded, forget it."

 

Current road closures

14/02/2020

 

Condamine River Road - Killarney Closed

Backhouse Road - Closed

Junabee Road - Closed at Eastern End

Hermitage - Emuvale Road - Closed at Eastern End

Emu Creek Road - Closed

Strudwicks Road - Closed at Southern End

Jingarry - Mt Sturt Road - Closed

Kemps Road - Closed

Upper Freestone School Rd - Closed

Whites Road - Closed

South Branch Road - Maryvale - Closed

Kadows Road - Closed

Wheatvale Plains Road - Closed

Dwans Lane - Closed

Kirklands Road - Closed

Glengallan Road - Willowvale - Closed

Clintonvale - Goomburra Road - Closed

Doyles Road - Clintonvale - Closed

Diggles Road - Closed

Willetts Road - Closed

Cheese Factory Road - Closed

Mullins Road - Talgai - Closed

Springs Road - Greymare - Closed

Fogarty's Crossing Road - Closed

Park Road - Closed

Victoria St at Cox's crossing - Closed

School of Arts Road - Closed



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