Flood threat escalates in Oz

Thousands evacuated as rivers continue to rise after drenching rain

A total of 1,000 people were evacuated from central and southern Queensland state, including from the town of Theodore. Only a few police officers remained in Theodore, county mayor Mareen Clancy said.

After days of rain, streets were turned into rivers, with traffic signs and rooftops the only thing visible above the high-water mark in some places. Some people had to be taken from their homes by boat. And there was still more flooding to come. “Certainly the water is still rising,” Clancy said.

 “The heights are at such a new record it’s not known what this is going to do.” At least two other Queensland towns—Emerald and Bundaberg—also were preparing to evacuate.
State premier Anna Bligh  launched a disaster relief fund for flood victims with 1 million Australian dollars ($1 million) in state money. Prime Minister Julia Gillard pledged to match that amount with federal funds.

“We won’t know until floodwaters recede the total amount of damage done,” Gillard said. “But what this does mean is the Queensland and federal governments will work together in those areas in partnership with the rebuilding of critical infrastructure.”

While days of drenching rain have eased, river levels continue to rise in many locations in the southern and central areas of the state as high waters make their way toward the sea. Communities downstream face days of uncertainty, the Meteorology Bureau has warned.

Flooding has shut down about 300 roads across Queensland, including two major highways to the state capital Brisbane.

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