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FNQ’s post-Jasper floods claim one life as creeks and rivers keep rising

Emergency supplies arrive in Cooktown as the flooding crisis worsens.

Emergency supplies arrive in Cooktown as the flooding crisis worsens. Photo: Qld Police

A Cape York community is bracing for major flooding in the wake of ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper, as the search for a missing elderly man is scaled down.

Police have grave concerns for the 85-year-old who has not been seen at Degarra, north of Cairns, since Sunday night.

His home was destroyed by floodwaters and his small boat was discovered in debris near the mouth of the Bloomfield River after an extensive land and water search.

Police have made the “heartbreaking” decision to scale back the search.

But officers said they would act on any further information and would conduct regular patrols of the search area.

Fruitless, frustrating search

“Despite tireless efforts by our crews, we have been unable to locate the man following this severe weather event,” Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner Brett Schafferius said.

“As debris is cleared and river levels subside police will continue to monitor the area for any sign of him and we hold hope that we can provide answers for his loved ones.

“We want to thank the community for their assistance during the search and continue to urge anyone with information to immediately advise police.”

Nearby Wujal Wujal was one of the areas worst hit by record rainfall and flooding caused by cyclone Jasper’s arrival last week, with almost 300 people evacuated to Cooktown.

The Cape York community of Kowanyama is on high alert with major flooding due to hit nearby Magnificent Creek from Saturday. Creek levels reached 3.7m on Friday.

“It could push beyond the major flooding level there, which is four metres over the weekend at some point,” a Bureau of Meteorology spokesperson told AAP.

“It could be a fairly prolonged flood there, for several days, but I believe preparations are well under way there.”

Early on Saturday, the weather bureau issued thunderstorm warnings for the Townsville and Toowoomba areas, with warning for large amounts of rain.

Bushland Beach near Townsville recorded 85mm of rain in one hour on Saturday morning.

The severe thunderstorm warning was later lifted, but the BoM warned of instability in the atmosphere causing more storms.

“The immediate threat of severe thunderstorms has passed, but the situation will continue to be monitored and further warnings will be issued if necessary,” the bureau said.

Bracing for the peak

Vulnerable people have been evacuated to Cairns as a precaution while locals have been sandbagging and the local council completing “significant earthworks” to protect the town.

Levels are set to rival the 2000 and 2009 major floods which reached 4.35m.

Floodwaters and rain has at least eased in the Cairns region, allowing the massive recovery effort to begin.

More than 650km of state roads have reopened, thousands of tonnes of flood debris cleared and hundreds of inspections completed to ensure motorists’ safety. Rail recovery works are also under way.

Authorities said they hope the North Coast line between Townsville and Cairns will reopen by Christmas for groceries and essential goods.

The Kuranda Range is expected to remain closed until mid-February with nearly 100 sites identified for repairs.

The recovery has been boosted by a state-federal $64 million assistance package announced by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese who visited the far north on Friday.

A flood appeal has also been launched, kicked off by $1.5 million from the state government.

Locals have been warned the recovery could take months.

-AAP

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