Source: The Australian, 7 May, 1996, p.1

Four feared drowned in floodwaters

Melaleuca Station, near Murwillumbah in northern NSW yesterday . . . one of many  
properties isolated by floodwaters - Picture: DAVID SPROULE
DEVASTATING rain appeared to 
have claimed four lives in south-east 
Queensland by last night as the worst 
flooding in more than 20 years caused 
Gold Coast beach erosion worth mil- 
lions of dollars and destroyed vegetable 
crops in some of the nation's most 
fertile land. 
While many grain farmers welcomed 
the widespread rain. flooding up to 4m 
has ravaged the Lockyer Valley, 80km 
west of Brisbane, which was still a 
declared disaster region yesterday 
despite the rain easing, allowing hun- 
dreds of families forced from their 
homes at the weekend to return. 
But more than 60 families in north- 
ern NSW were still stranded as flood- 
waters in the Richmond and Tweed 
rivers region continued to cause con- 
cern. Helicopters that had been drop- 
ping food parcels into the area were 
grounded by poor conditions. 
Residents at Grafton were preparing 
for serious flooding last night, a State 
Emergency Services spokesman saying 
a section of levee bank had been 
plugged with sandbags but water was 
IOW spilling over the top. 
The small Queensland township of 
Killarney, near Warwick, was also iso- 
lated yesterday by rising waters. 
The Queensland Minister for Emerg- 
ency Services, Mr Veivers, yesterday 
attacked hordes of "irresponsible 
idiots" for risking their lives by ventur- 
ing into floodwaters. 
A six-year-old Brisbane boy teas already 
died after falling into a flooded creek and 
extensive searches have failed to recover 
two men skylarking on a creek near 
Toowoomba or a yachtsman lost over- 
board on the Brisbane River. 
Police have found the crumpled make" 
shift corrugated iron craft used by the 
two Cambooya men to "shoot the rapids" 
on Saturday night and have also 
retrieved a 63-year-old yachtsman's din- 
ghy. All three men were still missing last 
Police have reported others windsurf- 
ing, swimming and using boogie-boards 
and air mattresses to float down danger- 
ous streams. 
The Mayor of the Gold Coast, Mr Ray 
Stevens, yesterday said the storms, which 
have dumped up to 1OOOmm of rain in 
some areas in the past seven days, have 
stripped tonnes of sand from beaches 
along the Gold Coast. 
Mr Stevens said the damage caused by 
the unprecedented downpour, which 
eroded many beaches back to the veg- 
etation lines, would cost millions of 
dollars to repair and was likely to devas- 
tate the tourism industry. 
The Bureau of Meteorology yesterday 
predicted the worst of the deluge in 
south-eastern Queensland was over 
although heavy rains in northern NSW 
were likely to continue until midweek and 
the water levels of the Tweed River and 
the Condamine River, west of Too- 
woomba, were expected to rise further as 
floodwaters raged downstream. 
The Premier of Queensland, Mr Bor- 
bidge, pledged government assistance to 
the worst-hit areas around Laidley, in the 
Lockyer Valley, where authorities pre- 
dicted that "hundreds of thousands of 
dollars" worth of small vegetable crops 
were destroyed. 
Mr Borbidge said Cabinet would con- 
sider today extending relief measures to 
farmers in the region, already financially 
devastated by drought.

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