Sunshine Coast flooding sees nursing home, unit block evacuated in the middle of the night

| 13.02,20. 09:21 AM |

Sunshine Coast flooding sees nursing home, unit block evacuated in the middle of the night

Photo: Flooded cars in a car park at Nambour Plaza. (Supplied: Jonny Duncan)

A nursing home was evacuated and people were forced to shelter in emergency accommodation as torrential rain caused flooding on the Sunshine Coast.

Authorities made the decision to evacuate 40 residents from the ESTIA Nursing Home in Mt Coolum just before midnight following concerns about flooding and sewage issues.

The ABC understands they were taken to other facilities across the Coast.

More than 230 millimetres of rain has fallen at the Sunshine Coast airport since 9:00am on Wednesday morning.

There have been widespread falls across South East Queensland overnight causing flash flooding and streams to rise.

Another 10 Coolum locals spent the morning in emergency accommodation after floodwaters threatened the structural integrity of their unit complex.

The group were evacuated from their homes just after 1:00am after water flooded the basement of the complex on the corner of David Low Way and Tanah St East.

Keith Symonds said he knew something was wrong when he saw the emergency service lights flashing outside his unit as he was about to go to bed.

"I realised the water was running down the road and woke everybody up."

Four residents lost their cars in the flooding.

"It was waist-deep in the garage by the time the last car came out," he said.

Mr Symonds said he was bracing for a long wait for the building to be fixed.

"The power room is in the basement so the electricity went off once the power room filled up, so a number of people evacuated yesterday and all of us are going to have to go today until it's repaired," he said.

Kim Martin owns a unit on the top of the building and was awoken by her neighbour.

"We went to bed 12 o'clock, midnight, we heard banging on the door, my husband Terry went out to check … and it was Keith and he said 'get your cars out, get your cars out'," she said.

"I was in knee-deep water trying to get the car out but we got it out, but a few haven't, which is sad."

Ms Martin said residents in the lower units were taken to a motel.

"No one was hurt but it's a mess," she said.

"It was scary because someone said, 'oh, the building might collapse because of the sinkhole' and things like that, but it was scary."

A number of swift-water rescues were carried out overnight, with most for cars which had been washed off the road between Buderim and Palmview.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Service's Tony Johnstone said there were 19 calls for help from motorists who drove into flood waters on the Sunshine Coast.

"Some of the situations range from people probably drove into flooded water … some people were just caught unaware about the water height."

More than 160 calls for assistance were made to State Emergency Service crews across the state, with most on the Sunshine Coast.

Floodwaters are expected to peak later this morning.

Last night, the Bureau of Meteorology issued warnings for dangerous and "life-threatening" flash flooding around the Sunshine Coast after reports of "intense rainfall".

A warning was sent for areas between Noosa Heads and Caloundra, including the hinterland, with falls of 79 millimetres recorded in the hour to 9:45pm at Yandina Creek.

The Weather Bureau said Coolum and Nambour recorded 133mm of rain in just two hours last night.

A minor flood warning has been issued for the Mooloolah River.

Elsewhere, there were reports of 76mm falling in an hour at Cooroy and the Sunshine Coast Airport had recorded more than 200mm since 9:00am yesterday, which is believed to be a record for February.

A flood watch is in place for south-east Queensland catchments between Bundaberg and the New South Wales border.

The BOM warned major flood levels were possible following heavy falls along the Condamine River at Chinchilla and downstream of Warwick.

On Wednesday afternoon, there was also an emergency flood warning in place for the residents of Warra, following major flooding of Jandowae Creek and Jimbour Plain.

Myall Creek at Dalby peaked on Wednesday, the second round of flooding for residents in less than a week.

Lessons learned from the 2011 floods

Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio said preparations were being made to open evacuation centres at Oakey and Jondaryan, but they were unlikely to be needed.

"We were caught unprepared in 2011 — we hadn't dealt with anything of that serious nature since about 1983," Mr Antonio said.

He said the town now had a better understanding of the way floodwaters would flow and that millions of dollars had been spent on detention basins to slow and hold water in the creeks and rivers.

"The situation we face now is probably not all that different to what we faced in 2011, but we are so much better prepared now then we've ever been," Mr Antonio said.

The council had received advice from the weather bureau that the rainfall totals would start to ease, he said.

"That's a bit of comfort for us. But in saying that … we are prepared to do what we have to do to look after our people," Mr Antonio said.

"We've had a few cars washed away, and we definitely don't want anymore."

Chinchilla cops a drenching, could reach major flood level

Hydrologist Sue Oates from the Bureau of Meteorology said there could be major flood warnings in place from Thursday for towns in south-east Queensland.

Chinchilla at Charley's Creek and the Chinchilla Weir to Ranges bridge area of the Condamine River are the areas of greatest concern.

"For Chinchilla, we're seeing it rise about the minor flood level on Wednesday night, and continue probably up to the major flood level by Thursday night, if not Friday morning," Ms Oates said.

"The major flood level would mean major disruption to the town, whether properties are inundated, roads would definitely be cut, and there would be some isolation of the town.

"It's a little bit early to tell what sort of heights we'll see in the towns downstream from Chinchilla and whether we get any further rainfall over the catchment to exacerbate the current level.

"But definitely the waters will flow through Condamine, then across to Surat, and finally get down to St George sometime after that."

Flood warning current for upper Brisbane River

The weather bureau is also closely watching the upper Brisbane River catchment, with a moderate flood level in place from Wednesday.

"Generally, south-east Queensland is pretty saturated," Ms Oates said, adding motorists needed to heed weather warnings.

"We've had this similar situation since about Wednesday last week, where we've seen heavy rainfalls across the areas of south-east Queensland from about Bundaberg out to Roma and down to the Queensland border.

"There is a lot of localised flooding, a lot of swollen creeks and rivers, and generally pretty saturated ground.

"It's not a good time to be on the road."


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