The Rockhampton Flood Crisis – The Waiting Game

Posted on Mon 01/03/2011 by


Here in Rockhampton, it’s now a matter of waiting, waiting, waiting.

I have no further images to add, because the last thing needed now is rubbernecks with cameras taking up space.

The river level at the flood marker currently stands at 9.05 metres which is 29 feet and 5 inches. It is still rising, albeit very slowly now. The peak of 9.4 metres was expected on Tuesday, and that has now been moved back somewhat to Wednesday morning some time. That is about 11 inches higher than it is at now.

Where we live on the North side of the river, we will not be affected at all. The worst case scenario brings the edge of the water level to within 500 metres of our home, and at those edges, it’s just a matter of an inch or so deep, at the very creeping edge of this massive flood.

The one thing we have noticed here is the quiet. We have the main rail link to the North not 150 metres from our home. Usually, there are about three to four trains running each and every hour, and they are mostly freight trains with Container on board supplying the North of the State of Queensland. There is one passenger service up and one back each day. That rail link has been closed now 11 days, and in all that time, only one loco has gone through, and that would have been maintenance people checking the line. So, even though you hardly notice those trains when they are running, the odd thing is that you notice them more when they are not running. The roads are also carrying significantly less in the way of traffic, mainly now just family vehicles and very few trucks at all.

I have mentioned in the earlier posts that the Fitzroy River basin is so huge, and has 9 Rivers in all, and every one of these has been in major flood, the first time that has happened in recorded history. At the confluence of the McKenzie and the Dawson is where the Fitroy begins. Just downstream from that is the measuring station at Riverslea.

The level of water at that station stabilised yesterday, and the latest reports indicate it is now falling, albeit slowly.

The following is the latest information on River heights in the System, and this bulletin was released at 6 PM Monday, barely 45 minutes ago as I sit here writing this now.

Latest River Heights:
Dawson R at Taroom * 4.43m falling 04:00 PM MON 03/01/11
Dawson R at Theodore 14.21m falling slowly 04:00 PM MON 03/01/11
Dawson R at Baralaba 14.05m rising slowly 03:00 PM MON 03/01/11
Dawson R at Beckers * 16.79m steady 02:00 PM MON 03/01/11
Dawson R at Knebworth * 16.29m rising 04:10 PM MON 03/01/11
Comet R at Comet Weir * 11.22m falling 03:00 PM MON 03/01/11
Nogoa R at Fairbairn Dam HW * 2.82m falling 04:05 PM MON 03/01/11
Nogoa R at Emerald # 13.4m falling 04:42 PM MON 03/01/11
Mackenzie R at Bedford Weir TW # 20.78m falling 05:14 PM MON 03/01/11
Connors R at Pink Lagoon * 6.95m falling 02:00 PM MON 03/01/11
Isaac R at Yatton * 13.66m falling 02:00 PM MON 03/01/11
Mackenzie R at Tartrus * 16.33m rising 01:50 PM MON 03/01/11
Fitzroy R at Riverslea * 26.74m falling slowly 03:40 PM MON 03/01/11
Fitzroy R at Rockhampton 9.05m rising slowly 01:30 PM MON 03/01/11

The flood flowing down the Dawson has passed those first five stations, where it is is now slowly falling, and has reached the measuring station at Knebworth, prior to where this joins the Fitzroy, where it is still slowly rising, but from the earlier measurement, this rise has slowed significantly to barely a hover now.

The Nogoa, the Comet and the Isaac flow into the McKenzie, and the Connors flows into the Isaac, and all four of those are falling.

The McKenzie is still rising slowly at the Tartrus station but in much the same manner as the Dawson at Knebworth, that rise is more of a hover also.

What is most significant here is the the measurement from the Riverslea station is now falling, so, while the levels at the two earlier stations indicate a slow rise, it is falling at Riverslea, indicating that the main floods from those other tributaries that flow into the two that join the Fitzroy are indeed falling, hence the fall at Riverslea.

This vast amount of water is still travelling down the Fitzroy at around 10 to 12 MPH, and with the Fitroy around 450 miles long, that peak will not appear at Rockhampton until the Wednesday morning. Most of that flood will dissipate as the river spreads out from its main channel.

I mentioned in yesterday’s Post at this link that the water was spreading out from the main South side of the City to the west. That vast area of water is now 5 miles wide and spreading.

In the central city on that South side, the water is also slowly rising and encroaching into the city centre area, as lower lying residential areas are still being evacuated. Power is still being isolated to some of those areas with water flowing into them.

With that vast extent of water still in the system, the flood level in the city will only slowly subside, and it is expected that the water level at that flood marker, the main indicator will stay above 8 metres for anything up to ten days, and probably longer as the water slowly makes its way down the Fitzroy.

The most significant falls are on the Nogoa River around Emerald, close to the huge Fairbairn Dam, (Lake Maraboon). Still holding vast amounts of water well over and above the 100% capacity, the water is still flowing across the dam wall, only nowhere near as much as it was. The river level at that dam, and also on the Nogoa River in Emerald itself have fallen quite a lot. Emerald is still cut off, but at least people can begin the huge clean up there now.

Back here in Rockhampton, as I mentioned at the top of the Post, we are just waiting for that peak to arrive. It may only be an extra foot on top of what it is now, but that however is not the end of it. It’s just the beginning.

What happens next is the heartbreak as people go back into homes having lost everything.

The city is cut off from the main direction of supply, the South. The necessities are having to be flown in by Air Force Hercules aircraft into Mackay, and then trucked South, while that road is still remains open.

This horrendous disaster has a long way to play out yet.