City almost swallows pedestrian

A man takes a stroll on an otherwise deserted road in Depot Hill yesterday.
A man takes a stroll on an otherwise deserted road in Depot Hill yesterday. Chris Ison

A MAN almost drowned in a central Rockhampton street yesterday as rising floodwaters continued to cause havoc in the stranded city.

The man, in his fifties, was attempting to walk back to his home through deep water when he fell.

He was rescued by police who left their boat to haul him to safety as a strong current threatened to carry him away.

He was lucky, but elsewhere in flood ravaged Queensland the death toll hit 10 as two more victims were claimed by water.

The body of a fisherman was found at Boyne Island and a man is missing, feared drowned after the car he was in was swept from a flooded causeway near Aramac, west of Emerald.

Two others, aged 19 and 40, escaped from the vehicle but the missing man, aged about 60, is thought to have been unable to escape as the vehicle disappeared into Cornish Creek under about 4.7 metres of water.

Late yesterday afternoon all boat access was banned in the Fitzroy River in the vicinity of the Yeppen Flood Plain between Gracemere and Rockhampton.

Mayor Brad Carter said he was pleased the Harbour Master had decided to restrict access to ships authorised by the District Disaster Co-ordinator.

“Crossing floodwaters is a high risk activity with hazardous underwater obstructions such as fencing and trees that can cause an accident,” he said.

“I don’t want to see a repeat of the 1991 flood which saw three lives lost.”

Rockhampton police warned that the floodwater crossing streets had developed strong currents and was becoming quite deep in places.

The evacuation of homes continued yesterday.

Acting Superintendent David Peff said about 500 homes had been evacuated over the past two days and today the attention would move from Depot Hill to Park Avenue.

About 75 people, including stranded travellers, bedded down at the evacuation centre at CQUniversity last night as the Fitzroy River reached 9.1 metres.

Tim McInerny, Red Cross field operations co-ordinator for Rockhampton, said a steady stream of evacuees arrived at the centre during the day as people continued to abandon their homes to the rising floodwaters.

“The mood is still positive and a big part of our day is dealing with donated goods. While it is very generous of people, we don’t need any more,” he said.

In addition to those who have fled to the evacuation centre, Mayor Brad Carter estimates a further 500 people have been taken in by family and friends in the region.

SES volunteers continued to assist people to escape in boats as streets in various parts of the city were closed to traffic.

Water Police have joined the patrols to deter looters.

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