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Cape York community braces for major flooding

Clean-up begins across far north Queensland

The remote Cape York community of Kowanyama is bracing for major flooding as Queensland’s north continues to feel the impact of ex-tropical cyclone Jasper.

An emergency alert was issued Wednesday night from the Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council.

“Water in the Mitchell River Catchment is rising quickly. Flooding is likely within the upcoming days, particularly in low-lying areas,” it said.

Vulnerable residents have already left, but Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Chelepy said he was prepared to evacuate the whole town if necessary.

“The advice of the Bureau of Meteorology and the advice from the mayor and the local disaster coordination group is that won’t be necessary but that’s what I’ve planned for,” he said.

He said the community was “well and truly prepared” for the predicted flooding.

The weather bureau is predicting river levels in the area to reach or exceed major flood levels.

“Our expectation is that the Tropical Cyclone Jasper will continue to meander around the Gulf of Carpentaria for the next few days,” meteorologist Sue Oates said.

Wednesday marked a week since Jasper crossed the Queensland coast.

Some areas in Queensland’s north have had two metres of rain since the system made landfall before being downgraded from a category two cyclone to a tropical low. Hundreds fled their homes or sought refuge on rooftops as communities were inundated.

Both Queensland Premier Steven Miles and his deputy Cameron Dick praised the efforts of emergency services and the so-called “tinnie army” of locals who rescued stranded residents.

“No doubt there’s going to be a lot of medals to hand out at the end of this,” Miles told ABC Radio.

The clean up has begun in Cairns but federal Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt said it was going to be a huge effort.

“We face a really massive clean-up exercise here in far north Queensland,” he said.

“The water, the mud, the smell, it’s going to take a lot of work from a lot of people.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Miles will visit flood-hit areas on Friday.

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