Mitchell gets near record flooding

Huge rainfall totals have cut off Mitchell, 90km west of Roma (570km south west of Brisbane). The situation is worse than 1990 and getting close to the 1956 record flood. Unlike the big commercial TV stations such as Channel 10 I did not have the luxury of a helicopter to check it out (landing apparently contrary to local council directions). I was in Roma running a solo operation trying to put out the following day’s paper, attending disaster management group meetings, trying to get a sense of what was going on through discussion on our Facebook page and updating our webpage with new information during the day.

We got some great pictures, through Facebook contacts. First, by contrast, this is the Maranoa River at Mitchell last Saturday, looking east towards Roma. I took this photo when I though the river was swollen.
But it was nothing compared to how it looked today. This second photo was taken by Jamielee Dodd in Mitchell around 8am today looking east to the bridge across the swollen Maranoa River.
This next one is by taken by Katrina Henry around the same time, 8am but from the other side of the bridge looking back to Mitchell. The river was at 8.2m at the time – around the same height as the 1990 flood.

This one is from Deb Maiore taken at 9am at the bridge. With water still coming down from Currawong, 4 hours upstream, the State Government declared Mitchell a disaster area. An evacuation centre was set up at the RSL Complex at the western edge of town.

Mitchell was cut off and with heavy rain still falling, the water reached 8.75m at the Mitchell Bridge at lunchtime. Fifteen homes had water over the floorboards with another 40 to 50 houses expected to suffer damage in a peak of 9m (0.8m higher than 1990). With more rain and water still to come down from Currawong the Disaster Management Group, worried the RSL would be cut off from the rest of town, made the decision at their 2pm meeting to move the evacuation centre to the Council Depot immediately. This is another Deb Maiore photo.

This final pic is from Maranoa Regional Council showing the extent of the flooding from the air (not sure what time). Mitchell is to the right of picture, the river to the left and the camera is facing south. While the river gauges have been steady since around 4pm, rain is still falling heavily (as here in Roma). Local grazier and upcoming council election candidate Kent Morris told us there was heavy rain upstream this afternoon. “The river is rising again at Currawong tonight, expect to see the Maranoa start rising again around 11pm,” Kent said. The worst may not be over. It could be a long night ahead. and Mitchell holds its breath as to what will happen next. Downstream at St George could be in trouble too, especially when the waters from the swollen Balonne (via Surat) add to the mix. I’ll find out more at the 7am disaster management meeting.

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