Teams of specialist swiftwater rescue firefighters are spearheading a multi-pronged response to severe weather impacting north and far north Queensland.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said rescuers were being deployed to strategic locations in hard-hit areas amid a rapidly evolving weather situation stretching from the Cape to Cairns and down to Townsville.
Ms Palaszczuk said the rescuers formed part of an agency-wide response and were on the ground in Cooktown, Hinchinbrook, Townsville and further afield.
“Queensland Fire and Emergency Services’ (QFES) highly-trained firefighters and State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers are operating alongside local personnel and partner agencies to protect affected communities,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“This weather system has the potential to escalate in the coming days, so it important people heed safety warnings, keep clear of floodwater and stay off the road if possible.”
QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll said crews had received multiple requests for help in relation to rainfall and flooding.
“Swiftwater crews have been busy helping those in need, including rescuing people from flooded homes,” Ms Carroll said.
“SES teams are also out in force and have responded to more than 230 calls for assistance in the past week.
“More resources are being placed on standby and will be deployed as required.”
Ms Carroll said residents and those travelling through affected areas should take steps now to protect themselves and loved ones.
“Flash flooding is a serious concern for communities already experiencing heavy rainfall,” she said.
“People need to remain vigilant because the deluge has made several roads impassable.
“That means keeping an emergency evacuation kit on hand in case you need to leave in a hurry and making sure you have alternate travel arrangements in place if roads are cut.
“The message is simple: If it’s flooded, forget it.”
Ms Carroll also warned people against playing in floodwater.
“Parents should educate children on the dangers of floodwater and discourage them from playing or swimming in flooded creeks and drains,” she said.
“Entering flooded creeks by foot is extremely dangerous and unpredictable and there is no way of knowing what is beneath the surface until it’s too late.”
Residents should monitor the Bureau of Meteorology for the latest weather warnings, call the SES on 132 500 for storm and flood emergency assistance, and dial Triple Zero (000) in a life-threatening emergency.