School Kids Trapped By QLD Floods Reunited With Families
A group of schoolchildren has been reunited with their families after spending nearly a week stranded by floodwaters at a campsite in north Queensland.
More than 70 students and staff were cut off by flooded roads at the Echo Creek adventure park near Tully on Monday.
Three children with gastro were airlifted to Cairns on Saturday but authorities decided it was safer to leave the remaining students where they were.
Authorities sent two helicopters from Cairns to airlift the group out on Sunday morning but floodwaters had receded enough for them to be taken using defence force troop carriers to Tully airport.
From there they were flown to Townsville using three light planes making several trips, with the operation expected to last a number of hours.
State Disaster Co-ordinator Bob Gee said he was very pleased with the work of both emergency crews and the teachers with the students for managing the situation.
UPDATE SCHOOL CHILDREN STRANDED BY FLOOD WATERS: All children, teachers & parents isolated at the Echo Creek Adventure Camp (nr Tully) by flood waters have safely returned to Townsville. GREAT JOB by all involved! More Info https://t.co/bq1sKeQlo8 pic.twitter.com/IxgNsRYTat— Queensland Police (@QldPolice) March 11, 2018
"The teachers have done, in my view, an outstanding job keeping them in high spirits," Deputy Commissioner Gee told reporters in Ingham.
"I grew up in flood country, I think those kids will remember this for the rest of their life."
Authorities were eager to get the children and teachers evacuated on Sunday while there was a break in the weather, with more rain predicted into the coming week.
The weather bureau is forecasting rain to continue, and while a low pressure system in the Gulf of Carpenteria is now considered unlikely to form into a cyclone, it will leave a tail of wet weather across the northern and Gulf regions as it heads west.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk travelled to the region on Sunday to assess the damage, after the area from Cairns to Townsville was disaster declared.
"I don't think people in the southeast realise how much impact this flood has had on this region and the surrounding communities," Ms Palaszczuk told reporters on Sunday.
The premier said around a third of all the state's local government areas had been disaster declared as a direct result of the flooding.
"It's great to see how resilient this community is. They've seen it before, they know what to do and I have been absolutely overwhelmed by their positive attitude," she said.
FLOOD UPDATE: The #BruceHighway is closed just north of the Euramo Bridge, cutting off supply to the Far North, and trapping 72 Townsville school children at Echo Creek adventure camp.— Laura Gardiner (@LauraGardiner_8) March 9, 2018
Full story at 6pm @WINNews_CNS pic.twitter.com/k0BoJgl1af
More than 700mm of rain fell in a number of catchment areas in four days, with The Boulders, south of Cairns, receiving 1009mm in the seven days to 9am Saturday.
More than 200 homes were inundated at Ingham, which remained cut in half by water on Sunday afternoon, although the flood level was dropping.
Ms Palaszczuk said the full extent of the damage caused by the rain would not be known for weeks, but that flooding would have a detrimental impact on banana and sugar cane crops, and the aquaculture industry.