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Thousands hit by record floods in Australia

04 February 2019

Townsville, a major port for northern Australia, is the country's top exporter of copper, zinc, lead and sugar.

The weather bureau warned of "dangerous and high velocity flows" along the Ross River after the flood gates were opened fully at the Ross River dam on Sunday, releasing about 1,900 cubic meters of water a second.

The army, police and emergency crews helped more than 1100 people evacuate their homes on Sunday night and efforts continued on Monday, with the aid of every available boat, helicopters and even tip trucks repurposed by resourceful council staff to carry people.

Queensland state Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk told reporters Monday that more rain in Townsville and the surrounding area over the next two days could cause flash flooding.

Emergency services tackled thousands of calls from people overnight around the city of Townsville, where evacuation centers were filling up.

Acting Chief Superintendent Steve Munro said officers had had to put their lives on the line to attend to calls for help. "We have applied that in short bursts when there are events of heavy rain.We will continue to do that for the most intense of hazards as they occur".

Two officers spent half an hour clinging to trees after their patrol auto was washed away in a "scary" incident while carrying out evacuations.

Dozens of panicked locals have taken to social media to request rescues as floodwaters continue to rise, news.com.au reports. "It just keeps bucketing down", he told The Sunday Mail. The suburb had waist-height water overnight.

"We have dozens of code-two jobs, our most serious jobs, at the moment".

"I've never seen anything like this", Townsville resident Chris Brookehouse told national broadcaster ABC, adding that his house was flooded with water more than 1m deep. "We're not through this yet".

Residents still in their homes in these suburbs should move to the highest ground in their dwelling before 8.30pm tonight.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill had described the rainfall as a "one-in-100-year event" and said Monday, "We're not out of the woods yet".

Cars and livestock have been swept away over a large area around the coastal city of Townsville.

In hardest-hit Rosslea, Megan Simmonds, 26, has been helping neighbours carry out their belongings from devastated homes where many are already under 2m of water.

"But the monsoonal trough is still siting heavily over those areas", she said.

About 10,000 people have already lost power since Friday - and more power outages due to public safety concerns are likely.

It said Townsville had broken its record for the wettest seven days in a row, with 1,012mm of rain falling by the end of Saturday, compared with the previous record of 886mm in 1998.

Thousands hit by record floods in Australia