Qld flood deaths hit 13, cleanup continues

By Marty Silk
Updated March 8 2022 - 1:11am, first published 1:07am
A man is still missing in the southeast Queensland flood disaster that has now claimed 13 lives.

Queensland's newly-appointed flood recovery coordinator "can see the hurt in people's eyes" as the state's disaster death toll rose to 13.

Major General Jake Ellwood will lead the state's recovery effort after major floods damaged more than 20,000 homes and businesses across the southeast.

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The veteran of Kosovo, Timor Leste, Iraq and Afghanistan promised to do his best to help flood-ravaged areas recover.

"Look, it is a tough time for Queenslanders, and for some this comes on the back of a number of other disasters, and so my heart goes out to the community," he said.

"You watch the news and you can see the hurt in people's eyes."

The flood death toll rose to 13 on Monday after police found the body of a man in a car in the Condamine River, about 160km southwest of Brisbane.

Another man remains missing and feared dead after falling from a boat on the Brisbane River near Breakfast Creek on February 26.

Queensland Treasury estimates private flood insurance claims on homes and businesses will top $936 million and fixing public infrastructure like roads, bridges, power lines and railways will cost more than $500 million.

The disaster is also expected to wipe 0.25 per cent, or $1 billion, off state's economic growth in the current quarter.

There were 1288 defence force troops cleaning up homes and businesses in Gympie, Gatton, St Lucia, Fairfield, Graceville, Rocklea, Esk, Gatton, Grantham and Goodna on Tuesday.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said there were 1778 homes with severe damage and 2430 with moderate damage after 15,000 assessments were undertaken.

He said there were 17 flood mitigation projects in the pipeline, including an upgrade of Queensland's early flood warning system, and he expects further mitigation ideas to come out of the disaster.

The deputy premier said buying back and demolishing homes was one option for mitigating future floods, but it wasn't the only option.

"In the past we have seen small buybacks where there haven't been alternative options available, but they are expensive and they obviously displaced people, and so we will consider all of the appropriate options, including allowing for onto building alterations, localised levees or stormwater protection," Mr Miles said.

"So there's a range of options that may be most appropriate in each individual circumstance."

Flood waste weighing more than 24 Airbus A380's has already been collected in Brisbane, where properties have been damaged in 190 suburbs.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner also said simply buying back and demolishing flood-prone homes was too expensive, and not a "silver bullet".

"There were 20,000 properties, residential properties that were flooded, if you actually start to calculate the value of those properties we're talking about billions of dollars worth of property," Mr Schrinner told ABC radio on Tuesday.

"So if I came to you and said: 'Look sorry, you live in a flood area, out you go, we're gonna bulldoze your home,' I'm not sure how you'd feel about that."

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The mayor said building homes on higher foundations and using more flood resistant building materials were options.

However, he said it was also difficult to change planning laws to make a difference when there were already thousands of homes and businesses built in flood zones.

Meanwhile, the federal government said it had paid 107,000 people in Queensland a total of $125 million in disaster payments February 28.

Australian Associated Press