Cyclone Debbie aftermath: economic impact of Rockhampton floods will be ‘devastating’

QUEENSLAND’S “mud army” has been resurrected to help clean up flood-ravaged areas across the southeast, with the damage bill from Cyclone Debbie tipped to climb into the billions.

Volunteers will gather in Logan, south of Brisbane, today to help residents whose homes were damaged by floodwaters off the Albert and Logan rivers last week.

It comes six years after 23,000 people volunteered their time to help clean up the damage in the week following floods which swamped Brisbane, Ipswich and the Lockyer Valley.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the devastation caused by the category four cyclone, as it made its way across north Queensland and down the east coast, was expected to cost “billions”. But she moved to reassure affected residents they were not alone.

“We are here, we’re going to be with you every step of the way and we’re going to make sure whatever support is offered we’re going to get to you as quickly as possible,” she said yesterday.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland advocacy adviser Kate Whittle said the floods would likely have a “devastating impact” on all businesses.

A member of the “mud army” helps with the post-flood clean up on Albert Street in Eagleby, Queensland. Picture: Claudia Baxter

Source:News Corp Australia

Low-lying properties are seen next to a swollen Fitzroy River in Rockhampton, Queensland. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled

GREAT BARRIER REEF BEING ASSESSED

Damage to the Great Barrier Reef by Cyclone Debbie is being assessed, with researchers saying it could be both a blessing and a curse.

While destructive ocean swells can damage delicate corals, cyclonic weather conditions could cool down rising ocean temperatures.

“It was an incredibly big system … unusually Debbie spent quite a long time crossing the Great Barrier Reef as well,” Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority spokesman, Mark Read, told SBS News. “When we put all those things together, the prediction is that the damage is likely to be widespread and potentially quite severe.”

Chief Executive of Queensland Tourism Industry Council, Daniel Gschwind, said the council is worried about the reef’s health but noted there was a positive side.

“Tropical cyclones can cool down the Great Barrier Reef or the waters of the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.

“Number one, by the cloud-cover; number two, by the rainfall associated with a cyclone; and number three, because of the winds that can actually ruffle the sea surface which improves or reduces the ability of the water to heat up. But also you can have massive deep water movements caused by the cyclones as well. All of those things can contribute to cooling the water by a couple of degrees.”

Damage to the Great Barrier Reef is being assessed. Picture: Brendan Radke

TURNBULL PROMISES MORE FLOOD-PROOF BUILDINGS

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited residents in the Logan suburb of Eagleby, one of the worst affected areas in last week’s floods, yesterday. He said he was committed to replacing damaged infrastructure with more floodproof buildings.

“These are record flood events so we’re going to have to be better prepared for the next one because clearly this will be repeated,” he said. “We really now have the challenge of making sure our building standards, our planning standards, take into account that we are the land of droughts and flooding rains and fires as well.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull helps to discard debris with Member for Forde Bert Van Manen in Eagleby. Picture: Claudia Baxter

SES worker Jim Ferguson said he and his colleagues were moved to tears after pulling a family to safety at Luscombe, on the northern Gold Coast on Friday, only to watch their house float away along the Albert River shortly after.

“The emotion just came over us,” he said. “What if we hadn’t got there when we did? What if the house had gone while we were still tied up to it?”

Mr Turnbull also visited flood-affected Lismore, in NSW, where he was insulted by a businessman who said more needed to be done to help the devastated community.

A family cleans up their home on Dongarven Street in Eagleby, Queensland, after Cyclone Debbie. Picture: Richard Walker Queensland Fire and Emergency Services crew clear downed trees from a property on the Gold Coast in Queensland. Picture: AFP/Queensland Fire and Emergency Services

Source:AFP

FITZROY RIVER EXPECTED TO PEAK

While the clean-up in north and southeast Queensland continues, residents in the central Queensland city of Rockhampton remain on flood watch as they prepare for the Fitzroy River to peak at 9m on Wednesday.

The Bureau of Meteorology originally predicted it would rise to 9.4m, which would make it the region’s worst flood in more than 63 years. It would have threatened more than 5400 properties and 3000 homes.

Rockhampton Regional Council mayor Margaret Strelow said the downgraded prediction would make a huge difference to the number of properties affected.

“We would expect probably over 200, maybe 215 proprieties, will have water over the floorboards,” she said. “A lot more will have a metre or more of water through their yards.”

The swollen Fitzroy River in Rockhampton is expected to peak. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled

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