Peak fears as Balonne River rages towards 12m danger zone
LOW-LYING properties in the outback town of St George were warned to be ready to evacuate yesterday, as the town braces for a flood peak tonight.
The Balonne region was facing its worst flooding since 2011, with residents urged to relocate.
Balonne Shire mayor Richard Marsh said the peak of 12.5 metres would put it in the top five flood events in St George's history.
Cr Marsh said flooding would primarily one low-lying street in the town, with 12 homes evacuated as a precaution.
"When the flood goes to 12 metres ... Ergon will be required to cut the power. The only alternative will be for them to be relocated," he said.
Queensland Police yesterday made an emergency declaration in the town, requesting locals not to use their own watercraft.
The main bridge in town had already been closed in anticipation of being inundated by 1.5 metres of water, severing graziers and farmers' access to the town.
Torrential rainfall in the Maranoa region was still yet to flow into the Balonne River with authorities unsure how long some properties would be cut off from St George.
Four SES crews armed with boats were being stationed in the town, located 500km west of the Queensland coast, and more emergency services were on standby in Toowoomba.
Cr Marsh said most residents outside St George were well stocked and would likely be able to wait out the flood in their homes.
"The estimates we've been given, and they're pretty rough, is two to three days," he said.
"We're expecting the peak Thursday morning at the dam and about six to seven hours later it will peak in town reach." Despite the evacuations and inconvenience, Cr Marsh said the rain had been welcome relief for locals who'd endured years of crippling drought. "It's positive, even those who are looking at having to move are positive."
Despite no significant rainfall forecast, floodwaters from the north were expected to prolong the flooding in St George and surrounding towns by a number of days.
BOM meteorologist Alex Majchrowski said major flooding was expected in both the Maranoa and Balonne rivers today and tomorrow.
The flood danger has been caused by massive rain dumps - of more than 230mm - at locations along the Balonne River upstream of St George and as well as significant falls, of more than 70mm, over St George itself.
That mass of water is expected to enter the water stream progressively, bringing the Balonne River to a 12.5m peak on Wednesday night.