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    Australia Flooding Follows Rainfall by the Foot

    January 28, 2013, 5:58:51 AM EST

    Record flooding has swollen rivers in eastern Australia, following days of extreme rainfall.

    Thousands of people in eastern Queensland were driven from their homes, some fleeing to roofs as waters rose quickly, according to multiple reports online. Thousands of homes and businesses were being inundated.

    The capital city of Brisbane was facing "commuter chaos" on Tuesday after severe storms damaged area rail lines, The Australian website said.

    More than 230,000 homes were blacked out after high winds downed more than 2,000 wires, and the electrical utility warned that some homes in southeast Queensland might not see power restored until Wednesday, the Australian ABC News website said.

    In hard-hit Bundaberg, police advised those stranded to "climb onto their roofs to be saved," The Australian said. Chopper pilots were "racing" to rescue area residents while daylight held.

    The community of North Bundaberg was under mandatory evacuation.

    The number of people and houses subject to evacuation as of Monday was put at 1,500 and 1,000, respectively, the website also indicated.

    The Burnett River was forecast to crest at 9.5 meters in Bundaberg. The Queensland Police Minister Jack Dempsey said that the river "has never risen so high."


    Stream gauge stages in southeastern Queensland as of Monday night, local time. Red shows major stage flooding; yellow indicates moderate flooding. (image credit: Australian Bureau of Meteorology website)

    Following rainfall of more than 600 mm (about 2 feet), some creeks in the Lockyer Creek catch basin topped 2011 levels, which were reached amid disastrous flooding, the ABC said. The 2011 flash flooding killed 12 people in the Lockyer Valley.

    A number of communities across southeastern Queensland were bracing for major flood crests as of late Monday, local time.

    Elsewhere, the regional communications utility was working to restore fiber-optic cable damaged by storms late last week. Damage to cable and power lines blacked out landline and broadband service to a far-flung stretches of central and northern Queensland.


    Rainfall for the week ended Jan. 28, 2013, in the state of Queensland, Australia. Highest amounts are above 400 mm (about 16 inches). The rain was unleashed by the former Tropical Cyclone Oswald, which angled southeastward over eastern Queensland following landfall on the Cape York Peninsula. (image credit: Bureau of Meteorology website)

    Flooding rain began in far-northern Queensland with the landfall of Tropical Cyclone Oswald, which struck the Cape York Peninsula near Jan. 21. Oswald, rather than dissipating, held together as a significant tropical low, drifting southward inboard of the Queensland coast.

    As the former cyclone drifted southward, it spread flooding rainfall and strong winds along its path. Cairns, Townsville and Rockhampton were among the coastal cities drenched last week by the leftovers of Oswald.

    Sunday, torrential rain and high winds spread southward into northeastern New South Wales, where more than 2,000 people were reportedly cut off, the ABC said on Monday.

    Windswept rain pelted greater Sydney Monday and Monday night, local time.

    Since Friday, rainfall at Upper Springbrook has been at least 1,433 mm (56.4 inches), of which 744 mm fell within 24 hours, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) website showed. The BoM indicate that the gauge is automated and the amount has not been verified.

    In nearby New South Wales, hard on the Queensland border, a gauge at Hopkins Creek gathered in 1006 mm (39.6 inches) of rain since Friday.

    Many other falls of 400 to 600 mm (up to 2 feet) since Friday were indicated by data posted on the BoM website.

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