The tropical low that has been bringing heavy rain to the Northern Territory has been making its presence felt in Queensland as well, closing roads, filling rivers and stranding travellers in the state’s north west.
Mount Isa police reported that 10 people stranded by flood waters at Harris Creek near Burketown were airlifted to safety on Saturday afternoon, with another seven motorists opting to stay with their vehicles.
Authorities initially thought 16 people, travelling in a number of vehicles, had become stranded on the Nardoo – Burketown Road after torrential rainfall early Saturday morning. This number however was revised to 17.
A rescue helicopter travelled to the remote location at around 5.45pm and transported 10 people, including a number of children, to Burketown.
The Flinders Highway was closed in a number of places on Sunday morning after heavy rain in O’Connell Creek and Gilliat Creek catchments overnight.
Richmond mayor John Wharton said some properties south of the Flinders Highway had recorded up to 180mm of rain.
“Plenty of places had four to five inches,” he said. “O’Connell Creek is running a banker and the Flinders has broken its banks here.”
He added that there had been damage to the highway between Richmond and Hughenden due to the volume of water, and he expected the Flinders Highway to be closed for at least another 24 hours.
Cr Wharton said flooding may have contributed to the derailment of a freight train transporting approximately 200,000 litres of sulfuric acid at around 10.20am on Sunday, approximately 20km east of Julia Creek at Spellory Creek.
The locomotion was on its side and all 26 carriages derailed. The three men on the train sustained minor injuries and were transported to hospital. Further information on the derailment can be found here.
”There’s no grass to hold the rain up,” Cr Wharton said. “It’s running away fast.”
He warned that it had been a great start for some but people to the north of the Flinders Highway had not received anywhere near the same amount of rain.
“The Stawell River coming from the north hasn’t got much in it, and the Flinders isn’t doing much at Hughenden. This is local water.
“We can certainly cope with a lot more rain.
“A weight has lifted off a lot of shoulders but we’re going to need more in a couple of weeks to make a lasting difference.”
Mount Isa district inspector Trevor Kidd said that anyone planning to travel needs to check with both the Bureau of Meteorology for latest rainfalls, river levels and weather warnings, as well as the Traffic and Travel site (phone or web 13 19 40 ) for the latest road closure information.