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."
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.
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
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