Residents evacuated in outback as possible cyclone threatens severe flooding

Residents evacuated in outback as possible cyclone threatens severe flooding

At least 60 people have been evacuated from Burketown in Queensland’s Gulf of Carpentaria as a tropical low is expected to bring strong winds and heavy rain to the already-flooded region.

The system was sitting close to the Northern Territory-Queensland border on Thursday morning and would intensify as it inched into Queensland on Friday, bringing gale-force winds and falls between 50 and 200 millimetres, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

There was a 40 per cent chance of the tropical low developing into a cyclone, reaching peak strength on Friday before weakening as it moved south-west on Saturday.

The tropical low was expected to peak in intensity on Friday.(Supplied: Bureau of Meteorology)

Residents in gulf communities have spent the past several weeks cut off by floodwaters from ex-Tropical Cyclone Kirrily.

Authorities in Burketown, which was flooded during last year’s wet season, were concerned about more rain falling on the already-saturated catchments, particularly the Nicholson River which had reached eight metres.

“Water that gets dumped in the Northern Territory flows our way and after Kirrily, we don’t need too much water to come into the catchments to cause some problems,” said Burke Shire chief executive Dan McKinlay.

Floodwater encroached on properties in Burketown with more rain predicted.(Supplied: Gangalidda & Garawa Rangers)

The Albert River at Burketown was almost over the bridge.(Supplied: Gangalidda & Garawa Rangers)

Mr McKinlay said elderly residents and those with medical needs had been evacuated to Mount Isa on Wednesday afternoon while families and children would also be flown out.

“If we’re hit by a lot of rain, our windows of opportunity to evacuate people narrow significantly,” Mr McKinlay said.

“The less people that are in town when this system hits, it takes a lot of pressure off our resources if we do get the worst,” he said.

The flooded Nicholson River at Doomadgee encroached on the town.(Supplied: Jess Toshi)

Residents reeling from Kirrily

Communities across the north-west were still cleaning up damaged houses and infrastructure after ex-Tropical Cyclone Kirrily dumped heavy rain on the region earlier this month.

Chair of Burketown’s NWHHS Consumer Advisory Group, Kylie Camp, said continual looming wet weather was impacting the mental health of locals.

Last week, the group arranged for a mental health clinician to travel to Burketown for two days.

“We’ve got to make sure that we provide those tools so that locals can refill their resilience tanks so that they can cope with what may be ahead.”

Ms Camp said the group would look to bring more mental health professionals into the community, as needed.


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