Residents evacuate as dam threatens to collapse
Residents have been told to flee their homes in southern Queensland over fears a nearby dam will burst.
Emergency repairs have so far failed to fix a large hole in 440 megalitre Bolzan Quarry Dam, about 30 kilometres north of Warwick, southwest of Brisbane.
Update as at 8:00am on Saturday 15 February 2020 pic.twitter.com/NGwF0CFHPF— SDRC (@SouthernDowns) February 14, 2020
About 5000 text messages and social media posts have been sent to residents in the nearby town of Talgai, urging them to immediately evacuate about 250 homes in low-lying areas amid fears the dam will fail.
The leak is a 3.5m by 1.5m hole at the base of the dam, according to Southern Downs Regional Council.
There are fears the entire dam wall could collapse.
The Southern Downs Regional Council warned the Bolzan Quarry Dam was set to break, causing "dangerous downstream flooding" between Talgai West Road and Dalrymple Creek Road in the early hours of Saturday morning.
"Residents need to act to protect life, leave now and move to higher ground," the council said in a statement.
EMERGENCY ALERT for Talgai (near Warwick) - Bolzan Quarry Dam failure as at 11.15pm Fri 14 Feb: https://t.co/ryOLWj9b8Q— Qld Fire & Emergency (@QldFES) February 14, 2020
Dalrymple Creek Road, Talgai and Ellinthorp. Police incident - Road closed to all traffic, Both directions. https://t.co/Tr0oJF0z5G— QLDTrafficDDSW (@QLDTrafficDDSW) February 14, 2020
Emergency Alert for Talgai - Dam failure will result in dangerous downstream flooding in low lying areas between Talgai West Road and Dalrymple Creek Road, Talgai. https://t.co/HaWE8OFpi1— Queensland Police (@QldPolice) February 14, 2020
Friday ⛈️ thunderstorm forecast: thunderstorms possible in #SEQld and the far north. Severe thunderstorms possible in the SE with heavy rainfall, and a risk of heavy rain and gusty winds in the Capricornia and Central Highlands. RADAR at https://t.co/HQOTbcpcon pic.twitter.com/kobK9ViHic— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) February 14, 2020
"Those evacuating have been urged to leave immediately and stay with family and friends in a safe area."
An evacuation centre has been set up at the Warwick Christian College at 70 Horsman Rd, Warwick.
The hole - which is about 5.5m wide, according to the ABC - was spotted by a resident on Friday night, AAP reports.
The Courier Mail reports that firefighting and SES crews were at the dam to try and patch up the leak after it first overflowed. However the dam burst again, resulting in more crews and senior officers attending the scene to deal with the flow of water.
Parts of the Darling and Southern Downs have experienced recent heavy rainfall.
Southern Downs mayor Tracy Dobie said she was confident people in the dam's path would get out in time.
"The land is really flat so the water will just go out over that land and by the time it has got a bit downstream, it will have dissipated," she told the Chronicle late on Friday night.
"I have confidence in the people who live there. This is their land, they know what happens and they will do the right thing and know where to go."
STORM LASHES MELBOURNE
Meanwhile, intense rain has lashed Melbourne's outer eastern and southeastern suburbs, leading to flash flooding and fallen trees and cutting power to thousands of properties.
Parts of Victoria's Gippsland and La Trobe Valley also copped a drenching as severe thunderstorms hit the state on Friday.
The State Emergency Service had fielded 550 requests for help by 9.30pm with 175 of them for flooding, 156 for building damage and 180 for trees that had come down.
The Bureau of Meteorology says rain has been particularly intense in the outer eastern suburbs of Croydon, Ringwood, Bayswater, Boronia, Ferntree Gully. In the southeast, Narre Warren, Cranbourne, Beaconsfield and Berwick have been soaked.
Southeastern Cardinia recorded 63mm by 9pm, 42mm of which fell within half an hour, while nearby Officer received 50mm.
Thorpdale in Gippsland received 63mm and She Oaks near Geelong recorded 58mm. Some small hail was recorded at Glen Iris and near the Melbourne Airport. The conditions caused havoc for the city's power networks, with AusNet reporting about 12,000 of its customers were without power at about 4pm. That figure was down to 6000 by 8.30pm, with the company hoping to have power back for all of those customers by midnight.
PowerCor reported more than 9000 customers without power at 7pm, which was down to 2500 by 8.30pm.
Thunderstorms have weakened across #Victoria this evening, but further thunderstorms are expected over parts of #Victoria during the weekend. Stay up to date with weather warnings at https://t.co/axgSxWImcI pic.twitter.com/f67CTqLHY0— Bureau of Meteorology, Victoria (@BOM_Vic) February 14, 2020
Its crews will work through the night to restore power to those who had lost it due to issues such as fallen trees and bark.
Flooding also caused issues on roads, with all southbound lanes on Narre Warren North Road at Princes Highway temporarily closed in the afternoon. The wet conditions may stick around until about 9am on Saturday in Melbourne but are expected to weaken as they continue moving east.
Nonetheless, Victoria's northeast is forecast to experience severe thunderstorms on Saturday afternoon which may bring very heavy rainfall, large hail and damaging winds.
A Bureau of Meteorology thunderstorm warning remained in place for parts of East Gippsland, the Mallee, Northern Country and North East districts at 9.30pm.
Rain in the northeast could help temper bushfires still burning in the region. "I think there will be some assistance - it is still hit and miss, so not a widespread rainfall event, but it will help generally," Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Michael Efron told AAP.
"That heavy rainfall actually could be a concern though in terms of flash flooding and landslides, just given the lack of education in those areas." The State Emergency Service has urged people to remain alert, particularly those in fire-affected areas where heavy rain could pose the risk of landslides and debris strewn across roads.
"Flash floods can happen quickly, without warning and it is important to never enter or drive through flood waters, as it can take just 15cm of water to float a car," SES State Agency Commander David Baker said.