Australia – Deadly Floods Hit 2 States in Wake of Cyclone Debbie

Heavy rainfall in the wake of ex Cyclone Debbie has caused major flooding in the states of Queensland and New South Wales.

Canungra in Queensland recorded 285 mm of rain in 1 day. In New South Wales Mullumbimby recorded over 300 mm of rain in 24 hours and the Tweed River reached levels not seen for over 40 years.

Authorities have ordered over 20,000 people to evacuate their homes. Police in New South Wales have reported 2 possible flood-related deaths.

Rainfall in Australia for a 7 day period to 31 March 2017. Image: BoM

Cyclone Debbie

On Tuesday, Cyclone Debbie made landfall along the Whitsunday coast, causing wind damage and flooding in Bowen, Proserpine, Airlie Beach and Mackay.

Mackay has recorded 480 mm of rain in the last 7 days. Sarina has recorded 802 mm of rain during the same period.

Around 90 people were rescued from houses and cars in and around Mackay. Initial damage assessments suggest that at least 270 properties were severely damaged and left uninhabitable.

Cyclone Debbie was later downgraded to a tropical low and the weather system headed south bringing extreme rainfall with it, affecting south eastern areas of Queensland and north eastern New South Wales.

South Queensland Floods

Heavy rainfall over the last 24 hours in south east Queensland has caused major flooding, cutting off hundreds of roads and prompting authorities to close schools. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) said it has received 5,700 calls for assistance.

The Logan and Albert rivers have flooded, affecting the areas around Logan, south of Brisbane, and the Scenic Rim region, including Beaudesert and Tabragalba where 20 people were rescued. Evacuation orders have been issued for areas near Beaudesert and Beenleigh as a result of flooding from the Logan River.

Evacuation Orders have also been issued by city of Gold Coast authorities for residents in Alberton, Stapylton, Woongoolba, Gilberton and Steiglitz, while levels of the Albert River remain extremely high.

Flood Warnings

As of 18:00 local time, 31 March, there were 9 rivers or creeks under major flood warnings in Queensland, including the Logan and Albert Rivers, as well as the Bremer, Connors, Isaac, Mackenzie and Fitzroy Rivers.

Rainfall in Queensland

Beaudesert recorded 247 mm of rain in 24 hours to 09:00 local time, 31 March 2017. Canungra recorded 285 mm and Maclean 242 mm of rain during the same period.

At least 16 locations recorded more than 100 mm of rain in 24 hours to 31 March (Amberley, Caloundra, Coolangatta, Fernvale, Harrisville, Highvale, Kenilworth, Maroon Dam, Miami, Southport, Woodford, Capalaba, Karalee, Fort Lytton, Manly and Regents Park).

Personnel from Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) prepare for flood rescues. Image QFES

North New South Wales Floods

In New South Wales (NSW) the Wilsons, Tweed and Richmond rivers all flooded, with the town of Lismore completely inundated and Murwillumbah and Chinderah severely affected.

Currently there are around 20,000 people affected by evacuation orders covering over a dozen communities.

  • South Murwillumbah, Condong and Tumblegum, 1,140 people
  • Murwillumbah: CBD and East: 750 people
  • Lismore 4,550 people and businesses
  • Tweed Heads (South and West): 6,700 people
  • Tweed Heads: 3,000 people
  • Kingscliff, Chindera, Fingal Head, Bilambil: 2,100 people
  • Kyogle: 200 people
  • Billinudgel: 500 people
  • Ocean Shores: 600 people
  • New Brighton: 330 people

NSW State Emergency Service (NSW SES) says that swiftwater rescue teams have been battling extremely hazardous conditions undertaking over 130 flood rescues in Burringbar, Murwillumbah, Lismore, Tygalgah locations.

Flood Related Deaths

Police in NSW have reported 2 possible flood-related deaths.

The body of a woman was found at a flooded property about 20km south of Murwillumbah. They say that police from Tweed/Byron Local Area Command have been told the woman disappeared in floodwaters overnight from a property at Upper Burringbar.

In the Hunter Valley, the body of a woman was found in a car which was swept off a causeway in Gungal. A 74-year-old man escaped from the vehicle but his 64-year-old wife was trapped. Police divers searched the Worondi Riveulet and found the woman’s body in the vehicle submerged in 4m of water. Police say inquiries are continuing.

NSW government announced that Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) is providing assistance to the local government areas of Ballina, Byron, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Tweed which will allow access to disaster assistance funding.

Rainfall

NSW SES said that “Up to 628 millimetres of rain has been recorded during the past 48 hours to 3pm Friday over the Wilsons River valley”.

  • Byron Bay – 233 mm
  • Evans Head – 287 mm
  • Green Pigeon – 278 mm
  • Mullumbimby – 362 mm
  • Woodburn – 298 mm
  • Tweed Heads – 196 mm
  • Ballina – 140 mm

Rivers

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said earlier today “Major flooding is occurring along the Wilsons River at Lismore where the river peaked near 11.60 metres around midday Friday, the highest flood peak since the 1974 event.”

The Tweed River has flooded Murwillumbah and Chinderah. BoM said the Tweed at Murwillumbah peaked at an estimated 6.20 metres early on Friday. The Tweed at Chinderah (Barneys Point) peaked near 2.30 metres, although BoM warned that river levels may raise again.

The Richmond River at Coraki is expected to peak around 6.40 metres overnight tonight (31 March) with major flooding.

BoM also reported major flooding along the Richmond River at Bungawalbyn, adding that “the Richmond River at Bungawalbyn is likely to peak near 5.50 metres Saturday morning with major flooding.”

Moderate flooding has been reported along the Richmond River at Kyogle following a major flood peak of 17.33 metres recorded mid-morning local time, 31 March.

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Featured photo: Queensland FES

Flood summary

Last updated: April 7, 2017
Event
Tropical Cyclone Debbie, Eastern Australia and Northern New Zealand, March to April 2017
Date
March 27, 2017
Type
Coastal flood, River flood
Cause
Extreme rainfall

Locations

A - Bowen (Australia)
B - Airlie Beach (Australia)
C - Proserpine (Australia)
D - Mackay (Australia)
E - Beaudesert (Australia)
F - Tabragalba (Australia)
G - Logan (Australia)
H - Lismore (Australia)
I - Murwillumbah (Australia)
J - Chinderah (Australia)
K - Rockhampton (Australia)
L - Rangitikei (New Zealand)
M - Whanganui (New Zealand)
N - Edgecumbe (New Zealand)

Magnitude

Rainfall level
267 mm in 24 hours
Bowen, Queensland, Australia - March 28 to March 29, 2017
Rainfall level
166 mm in 24 hours
Carfax, Queensland, Australia - March 28 to March 29, 2017
Rainfall level
115 mm in 24 hours
Moranbah, Queensland, Australia - March 28 to March 29, 2017
Rainfall level
115 mm in 24 hours
Mackay, Queensland, Australia - March 28 to March 29, 2017
Rainfall level
191 mm in 24 hours
Sarina, Queensland, Australia - March 28 to March 29, 2017
Rainfall level
233 mm in 24 hours
Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia - March 30 to March 31, 2017
Rainfall level
362 mm in 24 hours
Mullumbimby, New South Wales, Australia - March 30 to March 31, 2017
Rainfall level
298 mm in 24 hours
Woodburn, New South Wales, Australia - March 30 to March 31, 2017
Rainfall level
247 mm in 24 hours
Beaudesert, Queensland, Australia - March 30 to March 31, 2017
Rainfall level
285 mm in 24 hours
Canungra, Queensland, Australia - March 30 to March 31, 2017
Rainfall level
242 mm in 24 hours
Maclean, New South Wales, Australia - March 30 to March 31, 2017
River level
11.60 metres
Wilsons River at Lismore, New South Wales, Australia - March 31 to March 31, 2017
River level
6.2 metres
Tweed River at Murwillumbah, New South Wales, Australia - March 31 to March 31, 2017
River level
2.3 metres
Tweed River at Chinderah (Barneys Point), New South Wales, Australia - March 31 to March 31, 2017
River level
17.33 metres
Richmond River at Kyogle - March 31 to March 31, 2017
Rainfall level
74 mm in 24 hours
Taupo, New Zealand - April 4 to April 5, 2017
Rainfall level
60.2 mm in 24 hours
Gisborne, New Zealand - April 4 to April 5, 2017
Rainfall level
112 mm in 24 hours
Tauranga, New Zealand - April 4 to April 5, 2017
Rainfall level
72 mm in 24 hours
Auckland, New Zealand - April 4 to April 5, 2017
River level
8.75 metres
Fitzrpy River, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia - April 6 to April 6, 2017
River discharge
700 cubic metres per second
Rangitaiki River, Edgecumbe, New Zealand - April 6 to April 6, 2017

Damages

Rescued
500 people
New South Wales, Australia - March 28 to April 3, 2017
Evacuated
20,000
New South Wales, Australia - March 28 to March 31, 2017
Fatalities
7 people
New South Wales, Australia - March 30 to April 3, 2017
Evacuated
2,000
Edgecumbe, New Zealand - April 5 to April 7, 2017

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