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Townsville floods: Queensland city declared a ‘disaster zone’ as floodgates open

Photo Credit: Phil Staley/@Phil_Staley/Twitter

Townsville floods: Queensland city declared a ‘disaster zone’ as floodgates open

Townsville floods: Queensland city declared a ‘disaster zone’ as floodgates open

Officials in the Australian city of Townsville are deliberately flooding several neighbourhoods after record rainfall that has swollen a dam beyond capacity.

Residents in sodden Townsville have been urged to seek higher ground as heavy downpours forced the floodgates to the city’s swollen Ross River Dam to be completely opened.

Ross River Dam floodgates were opened on Sunday evening with the dam at 250 percent capacity after a year’s worth of rain fell in a week, releasing 2,000 cubic metres a minute which has sent townsfolk heading to higher ground. Swift water rescue teams have saved a number of locals, but more rain is expected.

All buses have been cancelled and schools, childcare centres and courts have been closed after the city was declared a disaster zone. The suburbs of Black River, Bluewater, Beach Holm, Yabulu and Toolakea were included in the emergency alert, with more rain on the way and further flash flooding expected.

Townsville has received more than a metre (3.3ft) of rain in just a week, caused by a monsoon trough passing through the state.

That is more than 20 times the average for the time of year – beating the previous record set in 1998, in what became known as the Night of Noah.

Photo Credit: Comrade craigjack36/@craigjack36/Twitter

Close to 2000 cubic metres of water was surging out of the dam every second after 9pm on Sunday, prompting warnings from the Bureau of Meteorology to residents in low lying areas.

“You can expect high velocity flows and unprecedented areas of flooding to occur in the Ross River Catchment,” BoM spokesman Bruce Gunn said.

The army has been called in to help evacuate residents in flood-prone suburbs, but despite the devastation locals remain positive.

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