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Schools closed, evacuations ordered as ‘nightmare’ Debbie stalks south

Schools closed, evacuations ordered as ‘nightmare’ Debbie stalks south

CYCLONE Debbie may now officially be ex-cyclone Debbie but it doesn’t mean she’s done.

The “eye” of the former cyclone is passing over Brisbane, causing destructive wind gusts.

The Bureau of Meteorology warned winds stronger than 100km an hour could plague residents in southeast Queensland.

BOM recorded 115km an hour winds at Redcliffe.

Earlier, 40,000 residents in northern NSW had been ordered to evacuate ahead of major flooding as southeast Queensland and northern NSW are lashed by the leftovers of Debbie.

NSW SES acting deputy commissioner Mark Morrow said on Channel 10: “About 40,000 people are subject to evacuation orders, both on the upper and lower Tweed River but also on the Wilson’s River particularly in Lismore where there is about 6,500 subject to an evacuation order there. That is a area we are looking at tonight, we are most concerned with.”

Additionally, tens of thousands of homes across Brisbane, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Noosa, Sunshine Coast and more are without power, according to Energex.

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Trains have been suspended on the Caboolture and Sunshine Coast lines.

Wind gusts of up to 125km an hour was predicted for the Gold Coast this evening.

Some dams in south east Queensland are spilling excess water.

And the worst is yet to come, Qld Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned, as the cyclone aftermath causes weather havoc across the state and into NSW.

As the rain worsens around peak hour, 2000 Tweed district residents and 6500 in Lismore have been ordered to “evacuate now” as the Tweed and Wilsons rivers rise towards major flood levels, and Tallebudgera creek breaks its banks.

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More than 1000 Gold Coast district homes are without power, the Gold Coast Bulletin reports..

The State Emergency Service advised people within the South Murwillumbah, Condong and Tumbulgum, Chinderah, Kingscliff areas to should leave.

“The NSW State Emergency Service is directing residents to evacuate immediately where safe transit exists and they are able to do so,” the order issued about 4pm said.

“Do not delay your evacuation. Roads will be congested or closed. You could become trapped and need rescue.”

The Bureau of Meteorology says major flooding is forecast along the Tweed River with levels predicted to be similar to 2001 and 2008 floods.

Evacuation centres have been established in Lismore and Kingscliff.

Rising floodwaters are also set to isolate some Gold Coast residents, with emergency alerts issued for the Tallebudgera Valley, which is expected to be cut off as roads are inundated.

At nearby Springbrook, in the Gold Coast hinterland, a massive 380mm had fallen by midday, with as much as 500mm predicted — more than four times the average monthly rainfall in Brisbane for March.

It’s paved the way for a nightmare commute as Brisbane and Gold Coast residents head home.

The Queensland SES had received 3600 calls by 4pm Thursday, and that continues to rise, especially on the Gold Coast (235) and the Brisbane suburb of Logan, with 245 calls.

Earlier, evacuation advisories were issued to people downstream of two Queensland dams earlier today, and to people in low-lying areas of the Tweed River near Murwillumbah, as the remnants of Cyclone Debbie smash southeast Queensland and northern NSW with fierce winds and torrential rain, and rising floodwaters.

Residents outside the Queensland town of Biloela are being urged to relocate as authorities issued an emergency alert for water levels at the Callide and Kroombit Dams.

Police say residents downstream should consider leaving “in case water releases are required”.

Schools were closed down in southeast Queensland today in an unprecedented move, and will remain so on Friday.

‘IT WILL GET WORSE’

It comes as the heaviest downpour is expected to hit Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast shortly before peak hour on Thursday, creating a nightmare commute for those returning home from work.

The head of Queensland’s Fire and Emergency Services has warned nowhere in southeast Queensland is safe from the destructive aftermath of Cyclone Debbie set to lash the area this afternoon.

Speaking with ABC radio, QFES commissioner Katarina Carroll said the system was so large and widespread, no parts of Brisbane and its surrounding areas were any safer than others.

“Whether you’re on the Sunshine Coast or the Gold Coast or in north Brisbane or South Brisbane, we’re all going to be subjected to severe weather this afternoon,” she said.

Flooding has already begun and Queensland residents are scrambling for sandbags as they prepare for the deluge no one saw coming.

Areas of the Gold Coast Hinterland have already had up to 412mm of rain in the past 24 hours with conditions to worsen. “The situation will get worse before it gets better,” Ms Carroll warned.

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SWIFT WATER RESCUES

The extreme weather event is the unexpected sting in ex-tropical Cyclone Debbie’s tail, and is expected to bring with it half a metre of rain that will leave Brisbane feeling like “a nightmare”.

Southeast Queensland is shutting down.

The rain is so severe Queensland authorities made the unprecedented call to close all schools in the state’s southeast and everyone from Mackay to Brisbane and the Gold Coast was told to go home today.

Swift water rescue teams have pulled more than 40 people from floodwaters.

Most were people stranded in cars by flash flooding across Brisbane, and on the Gold and Sunshine coasts, where some businesses and roads have been flooded.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Katarina Carroll said information was coming in quickly.

“There has been close to 40 swiftwater rescues in the southeast, those figures are around an hour-and-a-half old so I expect they would have increased,” Commissioner Carroll told reporters about 3.30pm AEDT.

The rescues in southeast Queensland followed nearly 90 in the Mackay region overnight and this morning from floodwaters that left many stranded on the roofs of their homes and in their cars.

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MORE RAIN TO COME
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Matthew Bass said parts of Brisbane had received more than 200mm of rain and Springbrook had more than 380mm — with more on the way.

“We do have the final heavy burst of rainfall and winds due to come tonight,” he said.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Matthew Bass said it looked like “the heavy rain may just clear Brisbane by about midnight or the very early hours of the morning.”

The Bureau of Meteorology has cancelled a severe thunderstorm warning for southeast Queensland, but a more general severe weather warning remains in place and more torrential rain is expected.

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Locals were warned peak hour would be “a nightmare”.

“The other message for today is that peak hour will probably be a nightmare this afternoon, so if employees can be staggered in terms of being released from work to go home, that would be the best thing possible in terms of ensuring that our road network is not clogged up,” Deputy Premier Jackie Trad warned.

Some people ignored warnings from authorities. Footage send to Channel 9 showed Gold Coasters riding jet skis around a flooded dog park.

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Residents all across southeast Queensland have been told to make sure their mobile phones are charged, and mobile battery packs if they have them.

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ALL SCHOOLS CLOSED

The Queensland government has taken the extraordinary step of closing all schools in Queensland between Agnes Waters and the New South Wales border.

The massive area stretches more than 600km down the state’s coast. More than 2000 schools and childcare facilities are affected. They will remain closed on Friday.

Dozens of schools in northern NSW have also been declared non-operational for Thursday and Friday.

Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad announced the last-minute decision just before 7.30am AEST on Thursday.

Parents who had already taken their children to school were assured they would be looked after throughout the day and were urged to collect them before closing time if possible.

In Brisbane, university and TAFE campuses were closed early, all the theme parks on the Gold Coast were shut and beaches along the entire south eastern coast from Mackay were also closed.

Virgin and Tiger Air flights into the Gold Coast are also to be cancelled from noon.

WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart has admitted authorities don’t know how serious the effects of Thursday’s deluge will be.

Following emergency meetings on Thursday morning, Mr Stewart said the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie was worse than anticipated.

“We had hoped that we had seen the last of Tropical Cyclone Debbie,” he said.

“We knew it was going to be a low, we knew it was going to track exactly the way it did, what the sting is, though, that the intensity has ramped up.”

Mr Stewart said Debbie’s unexpectedly powerful resurgence had resulted in “unprecedented” rain and flash flooding.

In Mackay, where flash flooding caused damage overnight, Mr Stewart said there had been a significant spike in 000 calls because people were in danger.

He urged people in the southeast to take precaution so that wouldn’t be repeated.

“They were caught out, so we don’t want that to happen,” he said.

When asked to estimate the damage rains would bring, Mr Stewart said: “We just don’t know.”

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CYCLONE DEBBIE’S DAMAGE UP NORTH

Emergency services workers earlier attempted to rescue about 50 stranded people, many off the roofs of houses and cars, after being trapped by floodwaters in and around cyclone-battered Mackay.

The majority, about 40, were awaiting rescue in the Homebush area, just southwest of Mackay, with swift water crews working to move them from the West Leagues Club.

There were with 38 swift water rescues completed overnight, including a heavily pregnant woman who was evacuated from a house in Homebush.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Katarina Carroll says she was moved to the Eton rural fire shed before being taken by helicopter to West Leagues Club.

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Emergency workers said a dramatic rescue operation underway in the Pioneer Valley, west of cyclone-battered Mackay in north Queensland, was being hindered by bad weather.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Katarina Carroll said there was concern for 20 to 30 people, including at Eton, on the Pioneer River. Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said there had also been rescues in Mackay overnight.

Ms Carroll said weather conditions were “horrendous” last night with very heavy rain and strong winds.

“Today we managed to get helicopters into the air. Communications have been extraordinarily difficult. While we are extremely confident that quite a few rescues have been made, we are going back, obviously, to see,” she said.

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At Airlie Beach, locals scrambled for supplies after Woolworths opened its doors for the first time since Cyclone Debbie descended on the coastal town.

Airlie Beach — one of the worst-affected areas — remains largely in lockdown as emergency services try to repair fallen power lines and roads following Cyclone Debbie.

Businesses will be unable to reopen until the power is reconnected. Two restaurants opened for brief periods on Wednesday to cook up meat and seafood that had to be used.

Online Source: The News

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