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Woman rescued from roof of ute stranded in flood, more rain to come in southern Queensland

Sunday December 5, 2021 - 13:38 AEDT
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Doug Browne was travelling home on his jet ski after checking on cattle at an inundated property at Springvale, - ABC

A 75-year-old cattle farmer used a jet ski to stage a heroic rescue of a woman stuck in fast-moving floodwaters near the Queensland town of Dalby.


Doug Browne was travelling home on his jet ski after checking on cattle at an inundated property at Springvale, 219 kilometres west of Brisbane, on Saturday morning.


"I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a girl frantically waving," he said.


"It was a pretty dire situation."


Police said the woman's ute was swept into floodwaters on Springvale Bridge at about 10:40am on Sunday.


"She was half crouching on the roof of her car, but the current was so terrible there I couldn't hold the jet ski steady beside her," Mr Browne said.


"She was frantic of course because it was a life-or-death situation.


"The girl luckily enough saw the opportunity to take a leap and she did, and she landed on the jetski behind me and hung onto me," Mr Browne said.


"It was extremely lucky and was probably one of the more difficult rescues you do. I gave her a hug.


"Eventually I took her home to my house, and later on we gave her lunch, and she contacted her mother and father."


Mr Browne's wife Lexie consoled the woman.


"I gave her a hug and told her it would be alright, and we were trying to help her," she said.


More rain to come


Clean-ups are underway in the border communities of Goondiwindi and Inglewood amid a brief reprieve from last week's flooding rain.


But on Sunday morning, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Greg Leach expressed concern about the potential for more heavy rainfall, hail and strong winds in south-east Queensland later in the day.


He said because catchments were already sodden, more falls could lead to flash flooding.


"We ask people living in those catchments to monitor the Bureau of Meteorology today and make sure they keep abreast with where these storm cells may occur," Commissioner Leach said.


"In the last 24 hours, the State Emergency Service has conducted 27 requests for assistance, and we've also attended six swift water rescue events as well.


"Our swift water technicians attended a submerged vehicle in Gympie to check that there were no occupants inside and fortunately that was the case. They've also assisted Queensland ambulance to attend a patient isolated by floodwaters and we also assisted a stranded motorist trying to access a causeway in Cecil Plains."


He said the focus for flood activity over the next few days would be at Cecil Plains, Surat, Condamine, Talwood and Goondiwindi.


Commissioner Leach said Inglewood, Texas, Roma, Taroom, Warwick and Yelarbon were no longer at risk but residents should not be complacent.


"We're going to keep our focus on the weather conditions over the next few days because with such a wide catchment, we've got to be vigilant for any increase in river levels," he said.


Goondiwindi Shire Mayor Lawrence Springborg said floodwaters are moving toward Mungindi and across into New South Wales.


He surveyed the area by helicopter and said from the air he could see that there were many crops totally underwater.


"Some of those are new crops of sorghum and cotton that are going to be damaged, if not totally destroyed, so that is going to be the situation downstream," he said.


"As it goes further down, it's also going to be backed up a little bit by the floodwaters from a couple of weeks ago and will also be meeting up with floodwaters from the Weir River which is running at a very high height.


"It's likely that we will see rural properties downstream of Goondiwindi that are going to be isolated for at least some days and possibly longer than a month."


He said with extensive damage to railway lines, the region will struggle for some time to "restore and recover".


Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said flood levels at Goondiwindi were at 10.28 metres and falling by Sunday morning.


"We're not going to return the hospital and aged care patients yet. We're just going to watch and monitor the weather over the next week," Ms Palaszczuk said.


She said supplies in the South East Queensland water grid had been boosted to 61.8 per cent.


"That is welcome news. Of course, as I mentioned the other day, we won't need to have those water restrictions in place in the south-east over summer."


Bureau of Meteorology senior hydrologist Andy Barnes told ABC Radio that floodwaters were making their way further downstream from Goondiwindi.


"We'll see those moderate to major flood levels continuing through the lower system for a large part of the week ahead," Mr Barnes said.


"Later on in the coming week, from sort of midweek onward, there is certainly potential for some fairly decent rainfall. Obviously, at this stage, there is some uncertainty about just how much rainfall that could be but there may well be some renewed river level rises across the catchment as a whole."


Mr Barnes said that given the size of the Macintyre River at Goondiwindi and Boggabilla, it is unlikely that any isolated storms in coming days would impact river levels.


He said there has been significant rainfall at Tallwood and the Weir River west of Goondiwindi which could lead to major flooding overnight.


"At the moment, we're saying that could be around sort of 4.2 to 4.5 metres, so quite a little way above major and maybe not dissimilar to what we saw in September 1998," he said.







- ABC

© ABC 2021

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