Residents leaning up their flood damaged properties
Queensland's recovery focus has switched to the southeast where hundreds of homes were inundated. Image by Darren England/AAP PHOTOS
  • weather

Community prepares for worst as ex-cyclone lingers

February 1, 2024

A nervous outback Queensland community is bracing for the worst, with heavy rain triggering flashbacks of a “one in 2000-year” flooding disaster.

Roads are cut, rail networks impacted and flooding widespread in Queensland’s northwest due to the remnants of ex-Tropical Cyclone Kirrily.

The former cyclone has been lingering near Burketown, bringing “intense rainfall” and damaging winds before it is expected to move south from Friday.

Burke Shire Mayor Ernie Camp said there was no flooding in the region yet but the wild weather had triggered locals who were still reeling from a March 2023 disaster.

Burketown was evacuated last year after torrential rain led to record river levels and “unprecedented” flooding in the remote Gulf of Carpentaria.

“There’s a lot of really nervous people in the community, reliving what happened last year,” Mr Camp told AAP.

“They described it as a one in 2000-year event – that is some comfort in that it doesn’t come around too often.

“But it is very concerning seeing Facebook posts of neighbours, lifting things up higher than the 2023 event – their resiliency is certainly being called upon now.”

A severe weather warning has been issued for the Gulf Country area, with flash flooding and heavy rain including isolated falls of 300mm forecast through to Friday.

Nearby areas have already been inundated, with some properties expected to be isolated for months.

People were rescued after their car was reportedly washed away by floodwaters at Cloncurry.

Supermarket shelves are becoming bare at nearby Mount Isa after flooding cut roads.

The only access into Mount Isa is via Camooweal near the Northern Territory border with roads from Julia Creek and the Matilda Highway to McKinlay cut off.

“Mount Isa looks like an oasis,” Mayor Danielle Slade told AAP.

Ex-cyclone Kirrily is set to move south and further inland through western Queensland from Friday, bringing yet more rain.

A driver being assisted in a flood zone
 More heavy rain is set to inundate Queensland’s northwest. Image by HANDOUT/QUEENSLAND POLICE 

“It will come back past a lot of places it has already brought more rainfall to,” a Bureau of Meteorology spokesman said.

Flooded areas in Moreton Bay north of Brisbane and further west on the Western Downs have at least received a reprieve as they clean up, with no rain expected for the rest of the week.

Disaster assessments are underway after hundreds of homes were inundated, with Bray Park one of the hardest hit.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles has ruled out calls for the government to consider a buyback scheme for the devastated Bray Park area.

However he said many of the flood hit houses in Moreton Bay were already part of a resilience rebuild scheme.

The premier said they would investigate the flooding, looking at stormwater drainage concerns.

“It should never have happened,” Bray Park resident Phil Devine told AAP.

“They have to get the drainage right.

“An old chap who lives across the road has been here 50 years but this is the second flood in 18 months and he is just going to walk way – it’s real sad.”

There may be more heavy showers to come after a low formed 250km off the southeast coast.

It is expected to drift northeast into the Coral Sea in the coming days and is a low chance of intensifying into a cyclone early next week.