Source: The Australian, 7 May, 1996, p.1
Melaleuca Station, near Murwillumbah in northern NSW yesterday . . . one of many properties isolated by floodwaters - Picture: DAVID SPROULE By CHRISTOPHER DORE and MP 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 night. 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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